Augmenting online interpersonal communication with biosignals, often in the form of heart rate sharing, has shown promise in increasing affiliation, feelings of closeness, and intimacy. Increasing empathetic awareness in the professional domain and in the customer interface could benefit both customer and employee satisfaction, but heart rate sharing in this context needs to consider issues around physiological monitoring of employees, appropriate level of intimacy, as well as the productivity outlook. In this study, we explore heart rate sharing at the workplace and study its effects on task performance. Altogether, 124 participants completed a collaborative visual guidance task using a chat box with heart rate visualization. Participants’ feedback about heart rate sharing reveal themes such as a stronger sense of human contact and increased self-reflection, but also raise concerns around unnecessity, intimacy, privacy and negative interpretations. Live heart rate was always measured, but to investigate the effect of heart rate sharing on task performance, half of the customers were told that they were seeing a recording, and half were told that they were seeing the advisor’s live heart beat. We found a negative link between awareness and task performance. We also found that higher ratings of usefulness of the heart rate visualization were associated with increased feelings of closeness. These results reveal that intimacy and privacy issues are particularly important for heart rate sharing in professional contexts, that preference modulates the effects of heart rate sharing on social closeness, and that heart rate sharing may have a negative effect on performance.
- Collaborative task
- Computer-mediated communication
- Customer service
- Heart rate sharing
- Instant messaging