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Legos Are Getting Angrier And That's Not Funny, Study Says

Science & Tech  (tags: Christopher Bartnek, legos, study, toys, children )

- 1958 days ago -
"The number of happy faces on Lego toy mini-figures is decreasing and the number of angry faces is increasing, ."


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Tim C (2420)
Wednesday June 12, 2013, 2:39 pm

Alan Lambert (91)
Wednesday June 12, 2013, 3:33 pm
This is not from The Onion:

"The number of happy faces on Lego toy mini-figures is decreasing and the number of angry faces is increasing, a University of Canterbury robot expert says."
That's correct. A robot expert at New Zealand's University of Caterbury who's also a big fan of Lego figures has studied them and determined that in recent years the Danish company has been adding more angry faces to its mix.

And Christoph Bartneck, acting director of the university's Human Interface Technology Laboratory, says in a statement released by the school that his findings are significant because "children's toys and how they are perceived can have a significant impact on children. ... We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts on how children play."

Bartneck will be presenting his findings later this summer at a conference in Japan. In a paper posted here, he explains how the study was done:

— "We photographed all the 3,655 Minifigures that were released between 1975 and 2010. We identified 628 different heads and cut them out from the photographs. ...
— "We created an online questionnaire that showed all the 628 heads and the 94 Minifigures. The [264] participants were asked to rate the emotional expression. ...
— "We asked participants to give one rating on one of the six scales that were labeled: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise."
One figure was removed from the study because its image was "corrupted due to a software failure." When the results were in:

— 324 faces were rated as showing "happiness."
— 192 reflected "anger."
— 49 showed "sadness."
— 28 seemed to show "disgust."
— 23 were classified under "surprise."
— 11 registered as "fear."
Though just more than half fell into the happy category, Bartneck writes that "we can observe a trend over time that the proportion of happy faces decrease and the proportion of angry faces increase."

Bartneck knows his way around Lego figures. He's one of the driving forces behind the "LEGO Minifigure Catalogs," a group of "fans dedicated to the beauty of Minifigures."

He tells The New Zealand Herald that "while Lego figures in the 1970s all had the same smiley face, from 1989 the range expanded to include hundreds of different emotions."

It's "a sign of the times," he adds. "If you go into a toy store these days what you see is that a lot of the themes and topics, particularly for the toys for the boys, are very rich in conflict and war and weapons."

As for the company that makes the toys, The Guardian reports that:

"Roar Rude Trangbaek, communications manager for Lego, said every toy developed by the manufacturer was tested by a range of expert children, while child psychiatrists, parents and teachers were also consulted. Research conducted for the company found that children, especially boys, enjoyed playing out conflicts between characters, he said. 'The conflict between good and evil is nothing new,' said Trangbæk. 'But the characters always have classic Lego humor – the good guys always win in the end.' "
Trangbaek also suggests, the Guardian writes, that parents could take something of an off-with-their-heads kind of approach to the toys:

If an expression concerns them, "they can always just switch heads with another figure," he said.

Alan Lambert (91)
Wednesday June 12, 2013, 3:35 pm
It's a sad commentary on the state of modern society. With this and Angry Birds, etc. it's just sad...

Judy C (91)
Wednesday June 12, 2013, 4:59 pm
Thanks, Alan It seems we are becoming less civilized.

Patricia H. (440)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 3:41 am

Olliver V. (1)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 4:08 am
Oh this is so sad, I like it better when my pirates and warriors have a borderline deadpan, and ambiguous smile.

Past Member (0)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 4:19 am
Is it a sign?

Lindsay K (6)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 4:52 am
That's not good - toys should bring happiness to children, not anger, or disgust or pain or other negative emotions.

John De Avalon (36)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 5:07 am
Young minds need a positive message...

Arlene Morrison (1)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 5:11 am
Didn't use to be like this when my kids were young!Very young children do not need angry faces on their Lego! go back to basics please!

Past Member (0)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 5:50 am

Cíntia R (20)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 8:17 am
I don't think young kids need angry faces on their toys, we need more love L-O-V-E and positive energy!

Dot A (182)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 12:51 pm
an example of what is meant by: art illustrates life

when we direct our creativity towards the more 'loving' of our emotions - i believe we all benefit from growing up - with LOVE

our world has all of the other emotions, but a song once said it with these words:

what the world needs now
is love
sweet love
that's the only thing that there's just too little of

Birgit W (160)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 4:21 pm
Some games, toys, and creatures look very scary to me, and I would never buy it for a child. Children need love, and not angry, mean, and frightening faces.

David C (108)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 5:16 pm least here in US it parallels the change from "What is good for all of us?" to "What is good for me?" type attitude and the era of "Greed is good. Live afraid and fight first then talk."

ER C (65)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 5:30 pm



greenplanet e (155)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 6:58 pm
Strange world.

Colleen L (3)
Thursday June 13, 2013, 11:57 pm
That's insane. Lego needs to change their ways. To be more positive/happy. Thanks Judy

Julie W (33)
Friday June 14, 2013, 2:11 am
Just what the world needs - more angry faces! Sigh!

Aileen P (39)
Saturday June 15, 2013, 12:33 pm
Strange world.Thank you for sharing. Noted.

Barb G (1694)
Saturday June 15, 2013, 10:23 pm
Children need all the happiness and love they can find. Some children have no toys and when a group of caring citizens play 'Santa Claus' at Christmas and the give homeless children these LEGOS with ANGRY FACES, what's the child to think, to feel? I say BOYCOTT LEGO and don't even encourage your child's interest!! The world is in a great need of HAPPY FACES. Imagine showing an infant a book of angry faces every day and speaking angry words around him. He/she will grow up without knowing love and happiness. Sure, we live in a topsy-turvy world where bombs go off anytime anywhere but we also live in a world with LOVE and HAPPINESS!!! Thnx Judy.

Melania Padilla (123)
Sunday June 23, 2013, 11:36 am
Good to know!!! Thanks for sharing, I will do also. Kids can be influenced by almost anything! We should pay more attention to this.

Jane C (0)
Monday October 14, 2013, 6:28 am
What was wrong with Legos when they didn't have faces? When I was young, I never felt they needed them.
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