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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 134606, 9 pages
Research Article

In Sync: The Effect of Physiology Feedback on the Match between Heart Rate and Self-Reported Stress

Eindhoven University of Technology, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, Netherlands

Received 28 November 2014; Accepted 1 January 2015

Academic Editor: Patricia Gerbarg

Copyright © 2015 Elisabeth T. van Dijk et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Over the past years self-tracking of physiological parameters has become increasingly common: more and more people are keeping track of aspects of their physiological state (e.g., heart rate, blood sugar, and blood pressure). To shed light on the possible effects of self-tracking of physiology, a study was conducted to test whether physiology feedback has acute effects on self-reported stress and the extent to which self-reported stress corresponds to physiological stress. In this study, participants executed several short tasks, while they were either shown visual feedback about their heart rate or not. Results show that self-reported stress is more in sync with heart rate for participants who received physiology feedback. Interactions between two personality factors (neuroticism and anxiety sensitivity) and feedback on the level of self-reported stress were found, indicating that while physiology feedback may be beneficial for individuals high in neuroticism, it may be detrimental for those high in anxiety sensitivity. Additional work is needed to establish how the results of this study may extend beyond immediate effects in a controlled lab setting, but our results do provide a first indication of how self-tracking of physiology may lead to better body awareness and how personality characteristics can help us predict which individuals are most likely to benefit from self-tracking of physiology.