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Biological Psychology


Linda Tennison


Psychologists are interested in self-compassion and its effects on our biopsychological well-being. A common method found throughout much research in assessing this is through heart rate variability. In the present study, we attempt to see whether or not self-compassion has an impact on one’s heart rate variability as a higher HRV indicates one is better able to adapt to stress. Self-compassion was measured beforehand through an online self-compassion survey that contained subscales measuring neuroticism. We also tested to see if social isolation would have an impact on HRV. Social isolation was implemented through a computer program game titled CyberBall, in which the researchers programmed the “game” to include or exclude the participants. There were two groups in the study with one starting in the isolation condition and ending in the non-isolation condition and the other starting in the non-isolation condition and ending in the isolation condition. Participants’ HRV was measured while they played CyberBall. We hypothesized that a lower heart rate variability would be produced during the isolation condition. We unfortunately found no significant change in HRV predicted by this hypothesis. However, our second hypothesis predicted that the more neurotic a participant was, the lower the heart rate variability would be. Results supported this hypothesis and suggest that neuroticism is an important variable when analyzing heart rate variability.