ETH Zurich creates model that detects stress from how we type and click

ETH Zurich creates model that detects stress from how we type and click

Picture this: you are halfway through your working day on the job or at university and a deadline is fast approaching, and while the old expression says that diamonds are made under pressure, you are the one feeling the heat. Now, to make sure that staff and students don't get too overwhelmed, ETH Zurich has invented a model which can tell whether someone is stressed through their typing and mouse movements.

Typing and clicking habits better indicators of stress than heart rate

Speaking to Swissinfo, the university said that “how we type on our keyboard and move our mouse seems to be a better predictor of how stressed we feel in an office environment than our heart rate.” To create the model, ETH analysed the mouse and keyboard movements of 90 test subjects on a regular working day, along with monitoring their heart rate and asking how stressed they felt at regular intervals.

In the study, they found that stressed people tend to move the mouse pointer more often and less precisely than someone who is at ease. Grammatical and typing errors were also more common when people were put under pressure.

ETH Zurich hopes to use the data to reduce workplace stress

To develop their data further, a number of international companies have allowed ETH to perform the same experiment with workers in real situations. The data, which is being collected through a dedicated app, should be available by the end of the year.

ETH Zurich said that they hoped the new model will be used by entrepreneurs and businesses to help prevent workplace stress and burnout. Psychologist and co-author of the study Jasmine Kerr explained that they “want to help workers to identify stress early, not create a monitoring tool for companies.”

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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