Captivating Study Maps Human Emotions On The Body

This article may contain affiliate links, learn more.

According to a study out of Aalto University:

“Emotions are often felt in the body, and somatosensory feedback has been proposed to trigger conscious emotional experiences. Here we reveal maps of bodily sensations associated with different emotions using a unique topographical self-report method. In five experiments, participants were shown two silhouettes of bodies alongside emotional words, stories, movies, or facial expressions. They were asked to color the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing while viewing each stimulus. Different emotions were consistently associated with statically separable bodily sensation maps across experiments. These maps were concordant across West European and East Asian samples.” (1)

Slide header

Slide header

The study looked at 700 volunteers from Finland, Sweden, and Taiwan. It demonstrates clearly that emotional states trigger different physical sensations in the body. Anger, for example, impacted the upper body and arms. Happiness was a heady feeling. Love left people with a full, warm feeling in their midsection and head. Depression left people feeling cold in their arms and legs.

“Emotions adjust not only our mental, but our bodily states. This way they prepare us to react swiftly to the dangers, but also to the opportunities such as pleasurable social interactions present in the environment.” said Lauri Nummenmaa, assistant professor in an Aalto University.