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I'm writing a simple iPhone relaxation app and am thinking of a very quick test I can do to learn something about the user's level of stress, anxiety, etc. The objective is to measure how effective the app is or to adjust the length of the session.

I thought of using the following measurement process:

  • Ask the user to trace a line with their finger, prior to relaxation
  • Repeat the tracing process following relaxation
  • Analyze and compare results to the user's previous entry or historic entries for the same user

Does this approach have any merit or validity? What other simple and quick ways are there to gauge how relaxed or stressed the user is?

A mobile device, like iPhone has 3 axis accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and a capacitive touchscreen that does not measure the pressure of a touch.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't imagine that the line tracing task is a valid (or reliable) measure of stress or anxiety--and also it may not be sensitive enough to detect impairment in fine motor movements (which I assume is what you're trying to measure). You could always try to look for one-item anxiety or stress scales (e.g., sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0895435606003878). $\endgroup$ – mrt Feb 21 '15 at 2:10
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Anxiety and stress are very available states, and since you want to know how people currently feel (rather than some more implicit construct), you probably can't do much better than just asking them. A single-item anxiety measure as suggested by mlt should work.

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What do you think about quick short-memory tests? It will measure distraction level and anxiety. Problem though is that first one must measure baseline rate of correct responses. For example, play game memory on 5x5 tile set.

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Just found out that the upcoming Apple Research Kit for iPhone allows for some kinds of motor and touch activity monitoring. Maybe some of these can be re-purposed to collect data relevant to the original question.

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