Vakgroep Psychologie, Gezondheid & Technologie

How do college students interpret ambulatory biofeedback in daily life?


Type of assignment:  Bachelor

Internal or external? Internal                                                                                                

How many students possible? 2

Type of research: Qualitative     



The past couple of years the university of Twente has developed (together with a number of other universities and care institutions) the Sense-IT (Derks, De Visser, Bohlmeijer, & Noordzij, 2017): a flexible app that runs on a smartwatch and can give heart rate biofeedback (when people are not involved in physical exercise) in a simple and personalized way. This could be of benefit to therapies in which the client is taught to better ‘feel their own bodily sensations’ and react appropriately. The Sense-IT actually measures heart rate in everyday life and could help these clients who often find it very difficult to notice changes in their bodily functions.


What we do not know is when to alert people on changes in their physiology, how people interpret these changes and how this could be helpful. An obvious pathway (see also for example: is to cue relaxation exercises when physiology is more active than usual. But what is pleasant or helpful for people in relation to rises in heart rate? And is this in line with how people interpret these signals themselves?


The Sense-IT allows for the determination of a personal baseline, after which the sensitivity of when a change is indicated can be personalized. For your thesis 5-8 people will wear the Sense-It for a number of days: one test-day to get to know the Sense-It and determine a comfortable sensitivity level, and then  two to four measuring days in which they live their lives and wear the Sense-IT. The Sense-IT will occasionally indicate heightened physiological levels, and in addition might provide some cues for interpretation (we will discuss this further when you choose this topic). All participants are subsequently interviewed, and you will write a concise qualitative thesis on their personalization choices and their experience with wearing the Sense-IT. You will reflect on these qualitative findings on the basis of relevant biofeedback and coaching literature (e.g. Birk & Bonanno, 2016; Crockett, Gill, Cashwell, & Myers, 2017; Houser et al., 2013; Peira, Pourtois, & Fredrikson, 2013; Theiler, 2015)


Who are we looking for?

Enthusiastic students who are interested in the themes stress, relaxation and biofeedback.



Dr. Matthijs Noordzij



Birk, J. L., & Bonanno, G. A. (2016). When to throw the switch: The adaptiveness of modifying emotion regulation strategies based on affective and physiological feedback. Emotion, 16(5), 657–670.

Crockett, J. E., Gill, D. L., Cashwell, T. H., & Myers, J. E. (2017). Integrating Non-Technological and Technological Peripheral Biofeedback in Counseling. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 39(2), 163–179.

Derks, P. M. J., De Visser, T., Bohlmeijer, E. T., & Noordzij, M. L. (2017). mHealth in Mental Health: How to efficiently and scientifically create an ambulatory biofeedback e-coaching app for patients with Borderline Personality Disorder. International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 5(1), 61–92.

Houser, M. M., Rosen, L., Seagrave, M. P., Grabowski, D., Matthew, J. D., & Craig, W. A. P. (2013). Exercise heart rate monitors for anxiety treatment in a rural primary care setting: a pilot study. Family Medicine, 45(9), 615–21. Retrieved from

Peira, N., Pourtois, G., & Fredrikson, M. (2013). Learned Cardiac Control with Heart Rate Biofeedback Transfers to Emotional Reactions. PLoS ONE, 8(7), e70004.

Theiler, S. (2015). A Pilot Study Using Mindfulness-Guided-Relaxation; Biofeedback To Alleviate Stress In A Group. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 219, 163–7. Retrieved from