Mood Assessment via Animated Characters

Few instruments can accurately assess the feelings of young or less verbal children in your clinical practice. Animation-based instruments offer a promising alternative, and may be uniquely appealing and engaging with children.

By combining the efforts of researchers experienced in the assessment and treatment of childhood internalizing disorders with those of researchers in the field of computer animation, we developed MAAC (Mood Assessment via Animated Characters), a computer-based feelings assessment instrument. This novel instrument will enable young children (under age 8) or those with limited verbal ability to rapidly and effectively identify their feeling states. Children indicate their moods by comparing themselves to brief (5–10 second) animations of diverse elemental emotions acted out by a female cartoon character. By interacting with the instrument on a computer, children are able to identify and respond to the animations directly, selecting which ones to view and then rating how closely their own feelings correspond to those of the character. MAAC can be helpful in your clinical practice with children in 3 ways: it can help you engage children in discussing their emotions; evaluate children’s ability to recognize various emotions and identify potential biases towards negative emotions; and help you educate children about emotions.

Having recently evaluated and fine-tuned MAAC, we can now offer it to clinicians in children’s mental health through this website. You can download the instrument and accompanying clinician guide free of charge, after providing us with some basic information about yourself (see below). Are you interested?