Linked through Emotions: the technique of Body Mapping

In a world which seems to highlight the differences between countries and nations, a study like the one conducted by a Finnish Biomedical team tries to find links which connect us across continents. If anything, it offers a breath of fresh air, a reminder that we are more similar than we are different.

This team uses the Body Mapping technique, physically mapping the bodily reactions to emotions in 700 individuals. What they found: the patterns of reaction to emotion in human bodies is the same across different continents.

The study relies on descriptive feedback provided by candidates from Finland, Sweden, and Taiwan. Subjects were provided with two silhouettes of the human body, and were asked to point out where they felt activity increasing or decreasing when experiencing a certain emotion. Yes, this might mean that the accuracy of the study depends on how well the candidates carry out their self assessment. However, the similarities that arose from across cultural and linguistic boundaries is a strong indicator that subjects did indeed report without bias.

The team also carried out a series of experiments during which candidates were subjected to words, movies, facial expressions and short stories – all activities which are designed to instill different emotions. The subjects then coloured in the silhouettes in the areas of the body where they experienced an increase (in red and yellow) or a decrease (in blue and black) in sensitivity. The results showed that certain emotions could be grouped together in terms of bodily reactions. Anger, fear and anxiety for instance, can be clearly associated with activity in the chest area and upper body. The tightness in the chest which we’re all too familiar with is associated with these negative emotions, as well as an increased heart rate.

After all, this is very evident in the emotions a smile evokes. The universal language understood by all.

The full study may be found here


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