An online 'emotional library' to help with emotion recognition

Is it possible to learn how to recognise emotions?

Mindreading is an online course based on the idea that emotional ‘literacy’ can improve just like any other skill, with repetition and practice.

Emotions in the real world are transient, without any opportunity to ‘re-play’ the emotion, to study them, but by making emotions digital they can be played and replayed as often as is needed, either in a private setting or in a group teaching format.

It is an emotional ‘library’ and the video, audio clips and stories are available for anyone who wants to learn to recognise emotions or to use them for teaching and research. 

The development and evaluation of Mind Reading was funded by the Shirley Foundation. The course includes 412 different emotions, each shown on 6 actors’ faces (males, females, different ethnicities, different ages) and through 6 actors’ voices, and so comprises a rich collection of almost 5,000 emotions in audio and video. Each emotion is classified according to 6 levels, where Level 1 is for young children and Level 6 is for adults, so that you can progress up the levels to learn emotions you may be less familiar with. And you can learn this at your own speed, in your own time, from the comfort of your own home, online. 

Mindreading contains 6 faces, 6 voices and 6 stories for each emotion. The user can learn to recognise the emotion, and then generalise the emotion across actors of different ages, genders and ethnicities.

Note: Mindreading cannot be viewed on an Android phone, but can be viewed on any PC or Mac computer or tablet. To access via iPhone, please download the Teachable app.

Who is Mindreading for?

Emotional literacy is for everyone. In particular, the course may benefit:

  • Autistic people who may want to learn to improve their emotion recognition skills
  • People with ADHD
  • People who are shy or anxious
  • People with learning disabilities
  • Drama students
  • Employees who are customer-facing
  • Researchers in the field of social psychology or social neuroscience who may require a set of emotional ’stimuli’ for their experiments
  • Anyone who would benefit from practising their emotion recognition skills, in every school, including mainstream and those with special educational needs

Developed by researchers

Mindreading is clinically researched and proven for effectiveness. A team of scientists worked on developing this online course, and tested its effectiveness by carrying out the following steps:

  1. First, the research team had to validate every human emotion and it did so by asking a panel of people to rate if this video or audio could be the emotion in question. Only clips that were validated by 80% of the panel were included in the final set.
  2. Second, the team had to audition a large number of actors, both male and female, older and younger, and of different ethnicities, to record the emotions. Only the best of the actors’ performances made the final cut.
  3. Third, the team ran a number of research studies to confirm comprehension. For example, they checked with a large number of parents if their child would understand each emotion word, and at what age.
  4. Finally, they ran a series of clinical trials to test if autistic adults and children improve in their emotion recognition if they practice with Mindreading for 2 hours a week over a 16 week period. The results clearly showed improvement.

Additional resources for professionals

Please also take a look at The Transporters series which includes tools, games and activities for education professionals and speech therapists, to further help children learn about emotions and facial expressions.

You can purchase the whole bundle for £24/$31.

ACE researchers

Backed by research

Mindreading was evaluated by the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge and has shown it can improve emotion recognition.

About Us

The Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge (ACE) is a science-led campaigning charity working closely with Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre. Our aim is to improve access to high quality support and remove barriers and stigma for autistic people.

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