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Deviceless Neurotechnologies

Heartbeats:The Mirror for Emotions

Even though we try to avoid emotions from time to time, the body does not lie. We can tell lies about what we really feel but our heartbeats tell the truths. There are two sides of our feelings which are negatives and positives. The ones which cause us to feel sad and miserable are categorized as negative emotions such as anger and sadness. Our heart beats give distinctive messages between two different sides of emotions. We might try to escape from or able to hide our negative emotions from time to time.  It might be possible to deny feelings with words. However, our bodies reflect the truths through our heartbeats.

When the Change Happen in Heartbeats

It was already known that under certain conditions there is an obvious change on heartbeats. Increased in heart rate might be observed especially in the stressful conditions. The most dominant feelings while we are in a stressful situation is fear and worry. Whether the stress of being eaten by a tiger or anxiety about being fired we are giving similar reactions. On a behavioral basis we have three different response options for this type of situations which are fight-flight or flee. However, our heartbeats give first response with increasing the tempo. We need to give immediate response for life threatening situations to survive. With the rise of the adrenaline hormone, our breathing and heart rate accelerate.

In addition, if we remain insensitive to our increased heart rate while in a stressful situation our heartbeats give more visible warnings. Coronary heart disease ,which happen when the heart blood supplies were blocked, causes heart palpitations. One of the major risk factors for this disease is detected as negative emotions which appeared under the stressful situations like anger and depression (Kubzansky and Kawachi, 2000). Apparently our heartbeats increase especially when we experience anger and depression. It can be interpreted as the body tries to give us a message. Emotions which we tries to escape for a long time emerge as unusual heartbeat. Our heart thumping, revealing the stressful situation and emotions we ignore.

The Length of Heartbeats and Emotions

On the other hand, there is also finding that heartbeats lengths might be distinguishing between negative and positive emotions. According to Brosschot and Thayer’s research results our heart rate responses might be longer after experiencing negative emotions rather than positive ones (2003).  When the participants reported their negative emotions, it was found that their heart rate response duration were longer than positives.

Although the scientific findings does not yet understand the reason for this difference in heartbeats length, there are some predictions about that. One theory suggests that the shorter heartbeats when experiencing positive emotions may be due to our faster habituation than negative emotions (Frijda, 1988). To sum up, Short duration of heart rate response while experience positive emotion may happen because we freely allow our bodies to experience positive emotions. We kind of allow ourselves to absorb positive emotions. But when the times come for negative emotions, our bodies give extra reactions because we cannot accept them. Increased heartbeats length can also be an indicator of this.

As a conclusion, with the support of previous experiments differences in heartbeats seems like related with negative or positive feelings. There are various ways to measure emotional responses with the help of heartbeats. For example, some of the studies use EMFi chair to measure emotion-related heartbeats (Anttonen and Surakka, 2005). As Emoty.AI  we are measuring heartbeat responses with AI without any devices.


Anttonen, Surakka (2005). Emotions and heart rate while sitting on a chair. Proceedings of the SIGCHI CTonference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. doi:10.1145/1054972.1055040

Brosschot, Thayer (2003). Heart rate response is longer after negative emotions than after positive emotions. International Journal of Psychophysiology , 50, 0–187doi:10.1016/s0167-8760(03)00146-6

Frijda, N. H. (1988). The laws of emotion. American Psychologist, 43(5), 349–358. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.43.5.349

Kubzansky, Kawachi (2000). Going to the heart of the matter: do negative emotions cause coronary heart disease?. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. doi:10.1016/s0022-3999(99)00091-4

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