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Is Personality and Heart Rate Variability Predictors of Well-Being?

Is Personality and Heart Rate Variability Predictors of Well-Being?

As many of you may know, I work for the Institute of HeartMath, where we do research on intuition, heart- brain interactions, interconnectedness and heart rate variability heart (HRV).  This article about Personality and Heart Rate Variability was written for our April newsletter. The published work observes, “Personality and heart rate variability (HRV) are each strong predictors of well-being, particularly cardiac health and longevity.” I thought my Care 2 friends might find it interesting.

Personality and Heart Rate Variability

Research shows how intimately the heart is involved in the processes and proper functioning of the human body. Therefore, even the nonscientist might easily accept the premise that certain aspects of heart rhythms can be indicators of general health. Now a recent study suggests that personality can be a useful barometer as well.

The study, Personality and Heart Rate Variability: Exploring Pathways from Personality to Cardiac Coherence and Health, hypothesized that “personality traits will be significantly correlated with specific measures of HRV.” (HRV, or heart rate variability is the variation in the time interval between heartbeats.)

Among others, the personality character traits of self-directedness, cooperativeness and self-transcendence – the experience of spiritual ideas – were utilized in the study as indicators of autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance. The ANS, which controls and regulates our internal organs, is a key measure of health: When the branches of the ANS are properly balanced, we are more likely to be in good health.

Although the researchers gathered what most observers may only see as highly technical data such as frequency levels of ANS activity relative to certain character traits, their ulterior purposes can be understood in simpler terms.

One of the project’s primary goals was to add to the scientific community’s body of knowledge about how autonomic nervous system regulation contributes to “the development and maintenance of health and disease.”

Moreover, the researchers observe, “We expect that a better understanding of HRV in relation to individual differences in personality and lifestyle choices will contribute to improved medical diagnosis and treatment.”

Irrespective of one’s personality, it has long been known at the Institute of HeartMath that virtually anyone is capable of improving and maintaining his or her mental, emotional and physical health through self-regulation.

Applying self-regulation, one aspect of the character trait of self-directedness, to our emotions has been shown scientifically to help promote health and well-being. Most notably, HeartMath has demonstrated, self-regulation of emotions by replacing negative emotions such as anger and anxiety with positive ones such as appreciation and compassion can vastly improve health, performance and relationships. Thousands of

HeartMath study participants and hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who have self-regulated their emotions by practicing coherence- and resilience-building techniques have achieved these results.

The participants in the study, conducted by professors Ada H. Zohar and C. Robert Cloninger, M.D, were selected from 271 adult male and female volunteers from a community in Israel. Each person completed an extensive questionnaire designed to provide a comprehensive personality evaluation, and 118 of them agreed to participate in the HRV study. They wore devices that recorded their heart rate variability over 24 hours, and the HRV recordings were sent for interpretation to the Institute of HeartMath, a widely recognized authority on HRV.
Zohar, Cloninger and Institute of HeartMath Director of Research Rollin McCraty authored the written study, which was published in December 2013.

The hypothesis that personality traits would be correlated with HRV measures was borne out in the results, the authors state in the published work, but they caution that the work is preliminary and future work should be undertaken to replicate and extend their findings.

Nevertheless, their work can be viewed through the prism of an array of studies over the last several decades. For example, the published work observes, “Personality and heart rate variability (HRV) are each strong predictors of well-being, particularly cardiac health and longevity.”

A variety of findings from previous research helped provide a foundation for this study, including the following:

  • There is a relationship between personality and adopting a healthy lifestyle. For example, research has shown personality can indicate the probability of smoking or maintaining a healthy diet (Zohar and Cloninger, 2011).
  • Personality influences an individual’s perception of stress in everyday social interactions (Uliaszek et al., 2012) and when facing major life challenges (van Zuidena et al., 2011).
  • Outlooks on life characterized by positive emotions and a sense of connectedness have been shown to promote psychosocial functioning and psychophysiological coherence. (Bradley et al., 2001, and McCraty et al., 1999.)

Why is heart rate variability, which was central to this study and a primary area of study at IHM, important on a personal level? Researchers with HeartMath and other entities have established that the amount of variation in the time interval between heartbeats is indicative of health and well-being.

This has been demonstrated, for instance, by assessing the amount of heart rate variability in many thousands of participants and correlating it with a wide range of mental, emotional and physical health indicators. The rule of thumb is, the greater the heart rate variability, the healthier the individual.

A common illustration of the predictive ability of the amount of HRV involves risk of sudden cardiac death, as the study explains. Low HRV is a predictor of the risk for sudden cardiac death and all cause mortality, and high HRV is a predictor of recovery from heart attacks and is considered to be a measure of a person’s resilience.

Thus, the researchers state in a final note, “The regulation of cardiorespiratory functioning through the autonomic nervous system may be an important way by which personality jointly influences the physical, mental, and social aspects of health and well-being.”

Click here to view the abstract or download a PDF if the complete text of Personality and Heart Rate Variability: Exploring Pathways from Personality to Cardiac Coherence and Health.

 

The Hidden Power of the Heart by FREE! E-Book, One of HeartMath’s classics, speaks to you in a warm and friendly style, like a good friend. It combines wisdom with practical tools and techniques to develop your heart intelligence. How-to for unlocking your love, compassion and peace. Includes expanding topics: holographic awareness, the dimensional shift and DNA blueprints. Click to receive this Free e-book, The Hidden Power of the Heart.

Read more: Anxiety, Biorhythms, Depression, Exercises, Family, General Health, Global Healing, Guidance, Health, Healthy Aging, Home, Inspiration, Life, Men's Health, Mental Wellness, Nourishing the Heart, Peace, Self-Help, Simply Healthy, Spirit, Spirituality and Technology, Stress, Women's Health, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Sara, from Institute of HeartMath

Sara Childre is President and CEO of the non-profit Institute of HeartMath. Since 1991, Sara has helped oversee and develop HeartMath trainings, educational products and scientific programs. She was appointed vice president and CFO of the institute in 1992, then president and CEO in 1998.

77 comments

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1:07AM PDT on May 27, 2014

Thanks

6:12PM PDT on May 26, 2014

Interesting article.

11:01AM PDT on May 26, 2014

interesting research

12:32AM PDT on May 22, 2014

Thanks

7:56AM PDT on May 21, 2014

Thanks for sharing !! :)

8:44PM PDT on May 17, 2014

hmmm

8:35PM PDT on May 17, 2014

I got thrown off of the Care 2 network(this online community) two times just for using My constitutional RIGHT to defend Myself against what I very strongly considered to be abusive trolls that were attacking Me just for having an opinion about Death and an interest in Cryonics!!! Well I will always hate and fear Death regardless of what anyone says, does, thinks, or feels about it. Anyone that insults Me about that is just being ignorant and extremely immature! It is because of PERSONAL EXPERIENCE that I hate and fear Death so much and I absolutely refuse to believe that there is anything wrong or immature about that!

12:04AM PDT on May 17, 2014

thanks for the thought-provoking article.

I would like to have signed up, but my password kept being deleted.

12:52AM PDT on May 15, 2014

thank you for posting

10:34AM PDT on May 13, 2014

may be

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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