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Biological Psychology | Other Psychology | Social Psychology


Rodger Narloch, Psychology Department


The purpose of this study was to see whether the induction of a positive or negative mindset could influence measures of health and happiness, specifically heart rate variability and affect. 43 participants completed two short writing exercises intended to place them in either a positive or a negative mindset. During the entirety of the study, I measured their heart rate and calculated the variability between beats. Participants reported their affect before and after the manipulation. The results showed a clear relationship between mindset condition and heart rate variability and a possible link between mindset and affect. The positive mindset condition evoked more positive affect, less negative affect, and higher heart rate variability, with the negative mindset condition having the opposite effect. The study also looked at the relationship between trait optimism and resting heart rate variability and found that, contrary to expectation, pessimists had higher resting heart rate variability. Overall, the results indicate that there is evidence for a link between mindset and measures of health and happiness.