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Nele Dael


Research Officer
Department of Organizational Behavior

Assistant of professor Marianne Schmid Mast

Internef, room 558
Tel 021.692.33.92

Postal address
Université de Lausanne
Quartier UNIL-Chamberonne
Bâtiment Internef
1015 Lausanne

Nele Dael works as a postdoc on a CTI project that aims to improve interpersonal skill assessment of job candidates. Project leaders are Prof. Marianne Schmid Mast (HEC Lausanne), Dr. Gatica-Perez (IDIAP Martigny) and business implementation partner Vima SA.
Nele is in charge of the development of a new interpersonal sensitivity test in the field work, based on perceptions of multi-channel nonverbal behaviours. She also collaborates with IDIAP and Vima SA on the development of algorithms to detect expressions of "soft skills" in recorded job interviews.

Nele's previous work focused on affective nonverbal communication (Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, UNIGE) and experimental colour psychology (Institute of Psychology, UNIL). She created new tools to measure body movement during emotional expressions such as the Body Action and Posture coding system and feature extraction algorithms. She further integrated colour science in controlled studies on the impact of colour on cognitive-affective processes including interpersonal communication.


Research areas

Interpersonal skill assessment for recruitment
People readily make inferences about other persons' feelings, personalities, or attitudes based on nonverbal behavior. This profoundly affects our personal and professional social interactions. At the level of organizations for example, assessing interpersonal skills in job interviews is a crucial step to hire the right candidate. As part of a CTI research project we are developing a new method for interpersonal skill assessment of job candidates, integrating expression and perception skills. First, we analyze expressive nonverbal behavior from short video CVs with automated multi-label skill inference. Second, we analyze the interpersonal perception skills from candidates using a new interpersonal sensitivity test in the professional context, that is based on perceptions of multi-channel nonverbal behaviours.

Project leaders are Prof. Marianne Schmid Mast (HEC Lausanne), Dr. Gatica-Perez (IDIAP Martigny) and business implementation partner Vima SA.

Semantic colour-emotion associations
Colours are frequently associated to emotions in how we think and communicate.
Whereas popular opinions are clear-cut, results from scientific studies are mixed (e.g. is red negative?). In this project we study implicit and explicit semantic colour-emotion associations:

- In the laboratory, we adopt a masked priming paradigm to investigate how emotional connotations of colour concepts are processed and assessed implicitly.

- We are performing a large-scale, international survey (click here) in which we aim to assess how color concepts (color terms) associate to a large variety of emotions. Having respondents from many languages and cultures, we assess their commonalities and differences that are potentially based on biological or culturally (in)variant experiences. Further, mappings consist in multiple interrelated colour-emotional associations rather than exclusive one-to-one relationships. These data build on a comprehensive inventory of semantic colour-emotion associations that will allow us and others to develop and test further research questions. Results may also foster neighbouring research areas, in particular on how colour-emotion associations shape color preferences.

Affectively driven colour choices
In this project we examine how emotionally salient stimuli influence colour choices through several lines of research.

- In a series of laboratory experiments we demonstrate that colour appropriateness judgments and even basic colour reproduction is influenced by the emotional context in a way that the colour choices match or fit the affective meaning of the stimulus (e.g., bodily expression, see also project "Nonverbal communication of emotion"). Findings support the existence of systematic yet not one-to-one colour-emotion associations (such as affective valence with colour brightness, with a large variance regarding hue) that implicitly affect both basic and higher order colour cognition.

- In a second line of studies we test how induced affect (mood, emotion) impacts on colour choices and vice versa, how individually chosen colours rather than preselected colours (by the researcher) as proposed in chromatherapy may be used to induce an affective state.

- A third research line focuses on how colour-emotion associations drive aesthetic colour judgment. We use this framework to investigate colour preferences (liking and disliking) exploring differences between individuals and contexts. Findings extend our current understanding of the role of affect in colour preferences, indicating mainly a) that general colour preferences do not generalize to specific objects (clothes, interior etc.), b) disliked colours seem to be processed differently than liked colours, c) affective associations to chosen colours are not only related to liked or disliked objects but also to concepts (symbols).

- Across these studies, new methods are being developed and used allowing intuitive yet precise colour selection in the laboratory as well as outside, aiming to improve reliability of online colour selection.

Effect of colour on the subjective perception of space
Expert opinions in consultancy and marketing motivate consumers to colour their environment in order to boost cognitive or affective functions (such as "violet helps to concentrate in an office"), or to create perceptions of bigger space. Surprisingly little empirical evidence exists that translate to founded messages.
This project is aimed at understanding how coloured environments influence spatial exploration of these environments. Of particular interest is the causal relation between colour perception and the subjective experience of room size, including its impact on subjective well-being or adaptiveness in particular situations.

Nonverbal communication of emotion
Emotion communication research strongly focuses on the face and voice as expressive modalities, leaving the rest of the body and its surroundings (e.g., colour environment) relatively understudied.

- Contrary to the early assumption that body movement only indicates emotional intensity, this research adds to the growing evidence that body movement also conveys emotion specific information. This research translates assumptions across the domains of emotion research (face and voice), linguistic approaches (gesture and sign language), clinical psychology and ethology. In order to enhance our understanding on the role of body movement in nonverbal communication (of emotion or other), we developed computer-assisted manual and automatic tools such as the Body Action and Posture coding system and feature extraction algorithms. These tools allow us and others to reliably and objectively measure patterns of expression and perception through body movement and to evaluate them against hypotheses from different theoretical perspectives.

- Beyond a person's expression, features of the surrounding environment also influence human interaction. Here, we merge the fields of affective nonverbal communication and colour science, in order to better understand how we use colour to express ourselves and judge others. In one study we showed for example that we systematically and spontaneously associate particular colours to bodily expressions, congruent with the underlying emotion. Further, merely seeing these emotional expressions changes the way we remember the colour on the expressor's clothes in line with the depicted emotion (e.g., brighter for positive expressions, see also project "Affectively driven colour choices").



École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Audiovisual Communications Laboratory
Visual Art - Does a multimodal enriched visualization enhance our aesthetic experience (CROSS project 2016)
Contact: Dr. Loïc Baboulaz, Prof. Martin Vetterli

Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (Germany), Department of Experimental Psychology
Colour manipulation and measurement<br /> Cross-cultural colour-emotion association<br /> Impact of colour on perceived spaciousness
Contact: Prof. Daniel Oberfeld-Twistel

Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences
Contact: Dr. Marcello Mortillaro, Dr. Cristina Soriano, Prof. Klaus Scherer

Tilburg University (Netherlands), Department of Communication and Information Sciences
Emotion perception in body movement
Contact: Prof. Martijn Goudbeek

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), Department of Computer Science
Colour measurement and manipulation<br /> Development of colour selection tool for psychological experiments
Contact: Prof. Alejandro Parraga

Zhejiang University (China), Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences
cross-cultural colour-emotion association
Contact: Prof. Meng Zhang

With professional background

AkzoNobel NV
Colour R&I team<br /> Global paints and coatings
Contact: Dr. Thomas Curwen, Dr. David Elliott, Peter M. Spiers
Great Britain

AkzoNobel NV
Global Color Training and Knowledge<br /> AkzoNobel Decorative Paints
Contact: Stephanie Kraneveld


30 last publications ordered by: publication type  -  year

: Peer Reviewed


Hausmann M., Brysbaert M., van der Haegen L., Lewald J., Specht K., Hirnstein M. et al. (2019). Language lateralisation measured across linguistic and national boundaries. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior, 111, 134-147. Peer Reviewed

Jonauskaite Domicele, Abdel-Khalek Ahmed M., Abu-Akel Ahmad, Al-Rasheed Abdulrahman Saud, Antonietti Jean-Philippe, Ásgeirsson Árni Gunnar et al. (2019). The sun is no fun without rain: Physical environments affect how we feel about yellow across 55 countries. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 66, 101350. Peer Reviewed

Jonauskaite Domicele, Althaus Betty, Dael Nele, Dan-Glauser Elise ; Mohr Christine (2019). What color do you feel? Color choices are driven by mood. Color Research & Application, 44, 272-284. Peer Reviewed

Jonauskaite Domicele, Dael Nele, Chèvre Laetitia, Althaus Betty, Tremea Alessandro, Charalambides Laetitia ; Mohr Christine (2019). Pink for girls, red for boys, and blue for both genders: Colour preferences in children and adults. Sex Roles, 80, 630-642. Peer Reviewed

Jonauskaite Domicele, Wicker Jörg, Mohr Christine, Dael Nele, Havelka Jelena, Papadatou-Pastou Marietta et al. (2019). A machine learning approach to quantify the specificity of colour–emotion associations and their cultural differences. Royal Society Open Science, 6, 190741. Peer Reviewed


Jonauskaite Domicele, Dael Nele, Parraga C. Alejandro, Chèvre Laetitia, García Sánchez Alejandro ; Mohr Christine (2018). Stripping #The Dress: the importance of contextual information on inter-individual differences in colour perception. Psychological Research. Peer Reviewed

Mohr Christine, Jonauskaite Domicele, Dan-Glauser Elise S, Uusküla Mari ; Dael Nele (2018). Unifying research on colour and emotion: Time for a cross-cultural survey on emotion associations to colour terms. Progress in Colour Studies: Cognition, language and beyond (pp. 209-222). John Benjamins, Amsterdam. Peer Reviewed


Dael N., Bianchi-Berthouze N., Kleinsmith A. ; Mohr C. (2016). Measuring body movement : current and future directions in proxemics and kinesics. APA Handbook of Nonverbal Communication (pp. 551-587). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Dael N., Perseguers M.N., Marchand C., Antonietti J.P. ; Mohr C. (2016). Put on that colour, it fits your emotion: Colour appropriateness as a function of expressed emotion. Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006), 69, 1619-1630. Peer Reviewed

Jonauskaite D., Mohr C., Antonietti J.P., Spiers P.M., Althaus B., Anil S. ; Dael N. (2016). Most and Least Preferred Colours Differ According to Object Context : New Insights from an Unrestricted Colour Range. Plos One, 11, e0152194. Peer Reviewed

Willemin J., Hausmann M., Brysbaert M., Dael N., Chmetz F., Fioravera A. et al. (2016). Stability of right visual field advantage in an international lateralized lexical decision task irrespective of participants' sex, handedness or bilingualism. Laterality, 21, 1-24. Peer Reviewed


Willemin J., Hausmann M., Dael N., Gieruc K., Fioravera A. ; Mohr C (2014, Sep). Language lateralization in early and late bilinguals using an international vocabulary. 4th North Sea Meeting on Brain Asymmetries. Peer Reviewed


Dael N., Goudbeek M. ; Scherer K. R. (2013). Perceived gesture dynamics in nonverbal expression of emotion. Perception, 42, 642-657. Peer Reviewed

Dael N., Perseguers M.-N., Marchand C., Antonietti J.-P. ; Mohr C. (2013, Jan). Put on that colour, it fits your emotion: Colour appropriateness as a function of expressed emotion. 18th meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology, Budapest, 29 August - 1 September.

Dael N., Perseguers M.-N., Marchand C., Antonietti J.-P. ; Mohr C. (2013, Jan). Put on that colour, it fits your emotion: Colour appropriateness as a function of expressed emotion. 12th International AIC Colour Congress, Newcastle, 8 - 12 July.

Dael N., Sierro G. ; Mohr C. (2013). Affect-related synesthesias: A prospective view on their existence, expression and underlying mechanisms. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 1-9. Peer Reviewed


Dael N. , Mohr C. (2012, Apr). Disentangling the red effects. The importance of emotional arousal and potency in the processing of red. Colour my Wellbeing - Applied Arts and Health Conference, Northampton.

Dael N., Mortillaro M. ; Scherer K. R. (2012). The Body Action and Posture Coding System (BAP): Development and Reliability. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 36, 97-121. Peer Reviewed


Dael N. (2011, Aug). Body movement analysis using the Body Action and Posture coding system (BAP). Presentation and workshop at the International Summer School in Affective Sciences.

Dael N., Mortillaro M. ; Scherer K. R. (2011). Emotion expression in body action and posture. Emotion, 12, 1085-1101. Peer Reviewed

Glowinski D., Dael N., Camurri A., Volpe G., Mortillaro M. ; Scherer K. R. (2011). Towards a minimal representation of affective gestures. IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, 2, 106-118. Peer Reviewed


Dael N. , Scherer K. R. (2010, Jul). Body posture and gesture: Another window into emotion? Adopting a multifunctional coding system for studying nonverbal communication. 4th Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS) (pp. 153).


Dael N. (2009). Portes ouvertes aux collégiennes et collégiens.

Dael N. , Scherer K. R. (2009). Gestural expression of emotion. The Oxford Companion to Emotion and the Affective Sciences (pp. 196-197). Oxford University Press, New York USA.

Dael N. , Scherer K. R. (2009, Aug). Expression of emotion in gesture dynamics. International Society for Research on Emotions (ISRE) conference 2009.

Mehu M., Bediou B. ; Dael N. (2009). L'expression des émotions chez l'homme et l'animal.


Dael N. (2008, Sep). Coding body movement from a multimodal perspective. Multimodal data management and annotation in the IM2 and AS NCCRs.

Dael N. (2008). Le temps d'une émotion.

Mortillaro M., Goudbeek M., Dael N., Mehu M. ; Scherer K.R. (2008, Jul). Performing authentic emotions on the political and operatic stages: Multimodal analyses of synchrony. Proceedings of the XXIX International Congress of Psychology.


Dael N., Goudbeek M., Mortillaro M., With S., Kaiser S. ; Scherer K. R. (2007, Jun). Multimodal integration in real-life and acted emotional expressions. Site Visit of the NCCR Affective Sciences.



Dutch: mother tongue
English: excellent
French: very good
German: good

Computer skills
Adobe Acrobat Professional, Adobe Premiere Pro
Image processing: GIMP, Adobe Photoshop
Statistical: SPSS, R, SAS
Programming: Matlab, XML, DMDX, Psychopy
Behavior research: ANVIL, web questionnaires and experiments e.g. Qualtrics


Expression and perception of emotion from body movement : Categorical and dynamic correlates of emotion
(NCCR in Affective Sciences, University of Geneva)

Master in Psychology
specialization theoretical and experimental psychology
Catholic University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium

Bachelor in Psychology
Catholic University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium

Work experience

Summary Doctorate Research on Emotion Expression and Perception
Dr. Nele Dael obtained her Master degree in Psychology at KU Leuven University in September 2006. She then started a PhD at the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences in Geneva under the supervision of Prof. Klaus Scherer, where she developed and conducted research on the expression and perception of emotion from body movement. She developed descriptive tools for measuring body movement such as the Body Action and Posture (BAP) coding system, rendered in a coding platform (Anvil) tailored for this purpose with Prof. Michael Kipp at Augsburg University of Applied Sciences. Nele further developed automatic feature extraction algorithms in collaboration with Prof. Antonio Camurri at the University of Genova. These generic tools served her research to identify and evaluate patterns of emotion expression and perception through body movement against assumptions from different emotion theories.

Summary Postdoctorate Research on Colour Psychology
After obtaining her PhD in 2011, Nele pursued her research as a post-doctoral researcher and teaching assistant at the University of Lausanne in the team of Prof. Christine Mohr. Her main research track merges the fields of affective nonverbal communication and colour science, aimed at setting a scientific foundation for understanding how colour impacts human communication. At the Laboratory for Experimental Research on Behavior (LERB), Nele developed new experimental paradigms and technologies that show a systematic coupling between colour cognition and both basic and higher-level cognitive-affective processes. She acquired expertise in colour research through collaboration with colour scientists at AkzoNobel R&D (Dr. Elliot, Dr. Curwen, and P. M. Spiers), the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (Prof. Oberfeld-Twistel) and at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Prof. Parraga ). Furthermore, she developed statistical solutions to model the contributions of co-dependent colour variables in collaboration with Dr. Antonietti at the UNIL psychology department. Her work has been published in several specialized as well as multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journals (see Publications or on Research Gate).

Summary Postdoctorate Research on Interpersonal Communication
Nele Dael works as a postdoc on a CTI project that aims to improve interpersonal skill assessment of job candidates. Project leaders are Prof. Marianne Schmid Mast (HEC Lausanne), Dr. Gatica-Perez (IDIAP Martigny) and business implementation partner Vima SA.
Nele is in charge of the development of a new interpersonal sensitivity test in the field work, based on perceptions of multi-channel nonverbal behaviours. She also collaborates with IDIAP and Vima SA on the development of algorithms to detect expressions of "soft skills" in recorded job interviews.


  • cognition (2)
  • colour perception
  • emotion
  • experimental psychology
  • interpersonal communication
  • nonverbal behavior


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Swiss University