Her hair is brown and tied back into a professional-looking ponytail. She wears a blue shirt, tan sweater and delicate gold chain. It’s the first time she has met the man sitting across from her, and she looks out at him, her eyes curious.
Now, obviously this work raises all kinds of issues, and even on a practical level, real obstacles remain. Jeff Cohn, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, studies the relationship between physical movements and emotion and says signals from the face, voice and body are incredibly complicated to interpret.
“Individuals vary a lot in how expressive they are,” Cohn explains. “You know, if I’m someone who is very expressive and I smile frequently, [even] when I’m depressed and smiling less, I may still smile more than you do if you’re a tight-lipped, not very emotive individual.”
This means, Cohn says, that using Ellie in the way blood tests are used — as proof positive of one diagnosis or another — will be really difficult.
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