Data + Design Project

Emotionally Vague: A Graphical Survey of Feelings

Saturday 11.05.2011 , Posted by

Just what do our emotions look like? It’s a simple question with extremely complex answers. Emotionally Vague, an interesting and extensive project to graphically display how our emotions look and feel in our body, surveyed 35 different countries to get to the bottom of the question.

Using a simple survey of 250 participants between the ages of 6 & 75 years of age, the team researched how people experienced the feelings of anger, joy, fear, sadness and love. Given a piece of paper with human silhouettes, each participant was asked to graphically represent each of these emotions in 3 ways – as a point, as directional arrows and with complete expressive freedom. The drawings were then compiled in Photoshop to create a visual “DNA-like frequency pattern,” or in other words, a scribbly average of what people drew. It’s interesting to see how similar each person represented their feelings, as well as how people chose to draw around their silhouette. See the results of these 5 core human feelings below, then head to Emotionally Vague for representations of the feelings expressed with color.

The process:

How do you feel these emotions in your body? Draw anything you wish.

Where do you feel these emotions in your body? Draw one spot only.

Do your emotions have direction? If yes, draw arrows.

Source: via

Paul Caridad

Written by Paul Caridad

Bicycled the perimeter of USA, hitch hiked across the States dressed as monk. Nomadic for the next few years. Would love to connect, so check out my links below! email:

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  1. It’s always great to see when good ideas uncover beautiful results! Really enjoying this ;-)

  2. Although the concept is both very original and cool, I don’t believe that this was released to a wide majority of people. Th lines/ scribbles/ blotches in these drawings are quite practiced looking. I’m probably wrong though. ^^’

  3. This reminds me of synesthesia.

  4. The participants were given the exact same marker to use, (Muji Red 2mm) which may explain the look. i.e. unavoidably splashy and definite. Admittedly, I gamed the system somewhat to provide equal weighting to each response. All’s fair in love and war, as they say!

  5. I love the idea of it and I understand the outcome and concept, but not how to express it

  6. though i agree with most of the visual representations of the emotions i have to kinda side with FROOGY on this… all the arrows seem to have the same style and form, as if actually only one person drew them. If this study is indeed what it says it is, i’d find a way to make it more widely known so that it is more believable. honestly i understand what each drawing means personally, but i don’t want to assume that everything i read on the internet is true without a little more basis

  7. I dont really get what the point of that is, but thats alot of lines!

  8. what’s that ?????????????????

  9. I think it’s kinda neat that the drawings depict most of the feelings down the center of their head and abdomen. Like the chakras.

  10. OK with you, Mykell.

  11. The lines definitely seems to have the same style, but in defense of the article, “The drawings were then compiled in Photoshop to create a visual “DNA-like frequency pattern,” or in other words, a scribbly average of what people drew.” These results are thus the average created in Photoshop, I can understand it being so crisp. Yes making the study more widely known can make it more believable, but why not releasing a scientific paper with the data and results. The academic world would test it and revise it if they found different results.

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