HeartbeatsAccording to a new study characteristics of one’s personality can be revealed with a heartbeat. The study, conducted by researchers from Germany, identified heartbeat “signatures” – wave patterns in the heart’s electrical activity – that were linked with personality traits.

People with certain heartbeat “signatures” scored higher on tests of neuroticism, implying that these individuals were more prone to negative emotions, anxiety, depression and self-destructive behaviour. These individuals also tend to display fewer positive emotions like happiness or cheerfulness. Researchers also found how personality traits like compassion or empathy were also determined by an individual’s heartbeat signature.

The researchers believe that heartbeat signatures will give them a better way to map personality traits than current methods.

Generally personality is commonly assessed using questionnaires, but these are subject to bias – people may choose responses that they think are more acceptable for their gender, class or creed or give answers which match their own perceptions of themselves.

The researchers claim they could also identify heartbeat signatures that are characteristic of certain emotional disorders like depression, or of cardiovascular diseases and such signatures could one day help diagnose these disorders, or identify people at risk for them.

The study involved 425 university students between the ages of 18 to 33. The students completed personality tests, and had their heart electrical activity measured using electrocardiography. Personality traits may influence the heart in a number of ways – either through direct nerve connections between the brain and the heart, or through breathing patterns or release of particular hormones, one of the researchers said.