The scientists hope these body emoticons may one day help psychologists diagnose or treat mood disorders.
“Our emotional system in the brain sends signals to the body so we can deal with our situation,” says Lauri Nummenmaa, a psychologist at Aalto University who led the study.
But previous studies have found marked changes in bodily sensations in mood disorders, Nummenmaa says. “For instance, with depression sometimes people have pain in their chest.”
And there’s even some evidence that when you change your own body language — like your posture or stance — you can alter your mind.
“People look at emotions as something in relation to other people,” Damasio, who is a professor at the University of Southern California, says. “But emotions also have to do with how we deal with the environment — threats and opportunities.” For those, Damasio says, you need your body as well as your mind.