Before Data got an emotion chip, was he able to assess a human emoional state accurately based on visual/sensor/verbal/auditory/contextual/other clues?

Just to be clear, the question is "could he tell what the emotion being experienced by a given human is at a specific moment", as opposed to "could he tell WHY that emotion is being experienced" or "what emotion is appropriate to the context".

Please note that I'm asking for specific source material confirmation (E.g. examples from specific episodes).

If the answer changes as the series progresses from TNG start till "Star Trek Generations" (which is when the emotion chip was installed), please either anchor specific answers to series timeline, or ideally provide a chronological progression of Data's ability to assess emotional state.

Just to make it less convoluted, humour and sense of humour is out of scope of this question.

The reason for asking is this question: " How was Data a poker grandmaster despite having trouble reading basic human emotions? " - which makes an assumption that Data has trouble "reading basic human emotions".


1 Answer 1


From Episode 4x11 (Data's Day):

DATA [OC]: Initially, Commander Maddox, I found it difficult to maintain friendships, since human emotions are often puzzling to me.

He expresses in a letter to Commander Maddox his struggle with coping with human emotions in general and some examples from his current situation specifically.

He goes on to say:

DATA [OC]: Eventually, I developed a programme enabling me to predict human emotional responses to specific actions.

But after having that horribly fail, he notes:

DATA [OC]: Commander Maddox, it would appear that my programme designed to predict the emotional responses needs adjustment.

Since this issue was (as far as I remember) never picked up again, I'd argue that he indeed has severe problem assessing human emotions, at least until he installed his emotion chip. However, I don't remember a particular scene in one of the films that would indicate that his reading of emotions improved by installing the chip.

  • Additionally, in In Theory, Data creates a sub-routine to deal with his relationship with Jenna D'Sora. This has mixed success.
    – jfrankcarr
    Apr 22, 2012 at 21:51
  • @jfrankcarr: True. However, that is only remotely related to actually reading her emotions -- he didn't care as much as he should have. A researcher would say, his methodology was flawed. :)
    – bitmask
    Apr 22, 2012 at 22:00
  • it indicates that Data is continuing to adjust his emotional response program. Since In Theory happens after Data's Day, I'd say it was a continuation of this story sub-arc.
    – jfrankcarr
    Apr 22, 2012 at 22:31
  • "since human emotions are often puzzling to me" - I'm a bit unsure whether this relates specifically to telling what emotion a human is feeling. I always understood it as being related to understanding appropriateness of what HE should feel. Apr 22, 2012 at 23:31
  • @DVK: In that particular episode, it is shown explicitly that he cannot understand the premarital jitters of the bride and that his almost Vulcan "advice"/"analysis" almost killed the wedding. I'd say that's a very strong hint, how his letter to Maddox is to be interpreted, don't you?
    – bitmask
    Apr 23, 2012 at 17:34

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