Exploring the influence of a human-like dancing virtual character on the evocation of human emotion

Jon Cedric Roxas, Deborah Richards*, Ayse Bilgin, Nader Hanna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Dance has universally been used as a form of human expression for thousands of years. This common human behaviour and communication method has not been explored much in the context of computer-based technology, even within the field of virtual human research. This paper presents an experimental study investigating the impact of watching dancing virtual characters on human emotions. The study analysed the responses of 55 participants, composed of a mix of dancers and non-dancers, who watched a dancing virtual character perform 3 different dances that represented anger, sadness and happiness in different display orders. The participants’ reported changes in their emotions and their feelings of anger, sadness and happiness were significantly dependent on which dancing character’s emotion they watched and the emotional change did not rely on correct recognition of the depicted emotion. For experimental control, our characters were faceless and danced without music. Our results suggest that just by watching a dancing virtual character some of the benefits associated with dancing could be accessed in circumstances where it is not desirable or feasible to dance, justifying further research to develop a personalised character with a face and music that adapts according to the humans’ emotions and preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • body movement
  • dance
  • emotional response
  • therapy
  • virtual humans


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