According to a new study, the feeling of a heartbeat-like rhythm on a person’s wrist has a measurable calming effect.
Inspired by research revealing the soothing effects of slow musical rhythms, scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London designed a wearable, wristwatch-like device called a dopper, which delivers a heartbeat-like stimulation.
“High arousal is correlated with increased heart rate, whereas calmness is physiologically correlated with lower heart rate,” Manos Tsakiris, a professor of psychology at RHUL, says in a news release. “We also intuitively associate higher and lower heart rate with anxiety or high arousal, and calmness.”
Wearers reported lower levels of stress, and skin conductance tests proved participants were less easily aroused while sporting the dopper.
To test the device’s effects on stress, researchers had study participants prepare a speech for public performance. All participants wore the dopper, which scientists explained was being used to measure blood pressure.
The doppers worn by half of the participants were turned on, delivering a heartbeat-like stimulation at a pace slower than the wearer’s resting heart rate. The doppers worn by the other participants remained unengaged.
Those sporting working doppers showed slower skin conductance responses and reported lower anxiety levels.
Researchers shared their findings in the journal Nature.
“Wearable devices are becoming ubiquitous in everyday life, but across the board their primary aim is to quantify our activity,” Tsakiris says. “The results we got suggest that, rather than measuring ourselves, we can instead harvest our natural responses to heartbeat like rhythms in ways that can assist people in their everyday life.”