Monday, January 11, 2010

Rhythm of typing can tell if you’re stressed

LONDON: The rhythm of your typing can help identify whether or not you are working under stress, according to a new study.

The research team led by psychologist Mike Dowman at the University of Abertay, UK, suggests that it could be used by retailers or banks to detect if you are logging into your account under extreme stress or duress.

It has long been known that the rhythms of a person’s typing style are stable over time, leading to suggestions they could be used to spot early signs of Alzheimer’s. But little was known about the effect of stress on typing patterns.
During the study, researchers asked 35 people to log into a PC 36 times over three separate sessions up to a month apart, using the same user name and password. People were put into stressful and neutral position alternately by listening to a range of sounds, which triggers particular emotions and heard either gentle paper crumpling or arguing couples and sirens.

The findings revealed that stress could be detected in a person’s typing because it changes the pattern of timings. For instance, making key-presses shorter on average.

“There’s no question: people do type differently under stress,” New Scientist quoted Dowman.

He said that security systems could be designed to raise the alarm if it seems that a person might be being forced to log into a system, whether a cash machine or online account.

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