How you type and how you use your computer mouse can show how stressed you are at work, according to research conducted by investigators at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
What to Know
In a study of workplace stress, people who performed the same office tasks maintained similar heart rates. For those who felt pressure, levels of stress correlated with how they interacted with their mouse and keyboard.
Increased levels of stress negatively affect the brain’s ability to process information, which in turn affects motor skills, according to neuromotor noise theory.
People who are stressed make more typing mistakes, move their mouse pointer more often, and cover longer distances on the screen, whereas people who are relaxed take shorter, more direct routes with their mouse to reach their destination and take more time doing so.
Office workers who feel stressed tend to write in bursts, starting and stopping and frequently pausing briefly, whereas relaxed workers tend to pauses fewer times while typing.
Many workers don’t realize that their physical and mental resources are deteriorating until it’s too late. Researchers hope the new data and machine learning techniques will help identify the signs of workplace stress before employees and their businesses lose productivity.
This is a summary of the article, “An Interpretable Machine Learning Approach to Multimodal Stress Detection in a Simulated Office Environment,” published in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics in March 2023. The full article can be found on sciencedirect.com.
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