Self-Regulation Study

The purpose of this research study was to understand how the body reacts when an individual needs to focus attention and self-regulate. Self-regulation is a process that requires attention to the task at hand and the ability to override an automatic response when a different response is required.

The study took place at the Research and Learning Center at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.  Parents and children who participated wore a wristband that collected physiological data while they completed attention and self-regulation tasks on an iPad. Scores on the task were based on a combination of accuracy and reaction time. The wristband collected physiological data (heart rate and skin conductance). When participants are excited and alert, their heart rate typically increases and they may have a small amount of sweat that shows up on their skin. Skin conductance is the term used to describe the amount of sweat that is coming from a person’s skin. This wristband utilized in this study can measure heart rate and skin conductance. This reading indicates general arousal levels related to calmness, excitement, and alertness. The wristband that was used in this study was the Empatica E4 wristband.

Participants ranging in age from 7 years old through adulthood completed a questionnaire about general levels of attention and self-regulation in everyday life and then completed the attention and self-regulation tasks on an iPad. Participants wore the wristband throughout the 20-minute experiment.

Dr. Catherine Spann