Eustressed or Distressed? Combining Physiology with Observation in Stress Studies



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In this thesis, I describe a novel method to conduct stress studies via the combination of a physiological and an observational information channel. The method enables the quantification of aroused emotional states and their disambiguation into positive or negative instances. The physiological channel targets sympathetic responses and is materialized as a perspiratory signal extracted from thermal imagery of the perinasal area. The observational channel is materialized via decoding of facial expressions. Decoding is usually performed in the visible spectrum, however I have developed an algorithm to carry this out using thermal imagery instead. Thus, thermal imaging is used for both physiological and observational analysis. The potential of this dual-unobtrusive methodology was demonstrated with two stress studies. The first study was about surgeons' interaction with laparoscopic training boxes --- representative of the dexterous genre. The second study was about operator overloading where the participants played a car driving game while being interrupted by phone calls and text messages.



Stress model, Facial expressions, Emotions, Human behavior