Feverishly crunching on the keyboard and sending the cursor long distances with a computer mouse – this can be a sign of stress in everyday work. According to a Swiss study, typing on a keyboard and moving a mouse can give a better indication of how stressed a person is than heart rate, which is often used as a physical indicator of stress. Mathematician Mara Naglin and colleagues from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich present their results In the journal “cell”.
The researchers recorded the mouse and keyboard behavior as well as the heart rates of 90 test subjects while they performed real-world office tasks in the lab. Some remained undisturbed, others underwent an additional job interview or constantly received new chat messages. The scientists then use machine learning to evaluate the data collected and compare it with surveys in which participants provided information about their stress levels. “We were surprised that typing and mouse behavior is a better predictor of people’s feelings of stress than heart rate,” says Naglen.
» Those who are stressed move the mouse cursor more frequently, less accurately, and travel longer distances on the screen. Relaxed people, on the other hand, take shorter, more direct routes to their destination and take their time doing it,” says the mathematician. Stressed people also made more mistakes in writing and wrote more erratically, with many short stops. Relaxers take fewer but longer breaks when typing.
“Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader.”