Researchers in Germany have found that the heartbeat of an individual can be a guide to his or her personality traits.
It has been known for long that stress is a factor in cardiovascular diseases. Now, here comes a new piece of research that links the wave patterns in the electrical activity of the heart to certain definite aspects of personality.
The researchers studied the electrocardiogram (ECG) of around 425 students in the age group of 18 to 33. The same students were also asked to fill out personality questionnaires to judge the level of their neuroticism. Neuroticism refers to the tendency to predominantly feel emotions that are negative such as depression and anxiety.
When the results from the questionnaire were compared with the ECG results, the researchers found a particular heartbeat pattern repeating in those with high neuroticism scores. The research team led by Stefan Koelsch of Berlin’s Freie University is not yet sure of the exact mechanism of how this correlation of the heart and the emotional make-up of a person works.
They say it may be because of some nerves that connect the heart to the brain or due to release of some hormones or particular breathing patterns. Although the currently accepted way of assessing personality is through several forms of questionnaires, the researchers say that these have several drawbacks. For one, people may choose to answer questions in a way that believe to be more socially acceptable or in some cases; people may hold the wrong perception of their own traits.
In these situations, the results may not be an accurate representation of the actual personality and this is the gap the researchers of this study hope to fill. Stefan Koelsch explained:
"We hope that with this method, we have found something that is perhaps more accurate, and more relatable, than many other measures of personality.”
These findings appeared in PLoS ONE journal.