Why So Furious?


A study finds that the faces of LEGO Minifigures “are becoming increasingly angry and less happy”:

[Researcher Christoph] Bartneck obtained images of all 3655 Minifigure types manufactured by LEGO between 1975 and 2010. The 628 different heads on these figures were then shown to 264 adult participants recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk online survey website. The participants’ task was to categorise the emotions on the heads in terms of the six main human emotions, and to rate their intensity.

There was ambiguity in the faces – each received an average of 3.9 emotion labels. Looking at historical trends – there was a massive increase in the variety of emotional expressions from early 1990s onwards, a process that continued up to 2010. The vast majority of figures have happy faces (324), but the next most common is angry (192), followed by sadness (49), disgust (28), surprise (23) and fear (11). And the trend is for an increasing proportion of angry faces, with a concomitant reduction in happy faces.

Rose Eveleth ventures a guess as to why:

This [trend] probably has to do with the increase in themed collections that go along with action movies and video games, many of whom are fighters. The researchers also found an increase in the amount of weaponry LEGO characters come with. Bartneck and his team express concern about how this shift to angry faces might impact children, writing “We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts how children play.” Their research, though, didn’t attempt to investigate any links between angry LEGOs and angry kids.

(Photo by Flickr user Sunfox)