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Effects of mood and aging on keystroke dynamics metadata and their diurnal patterns in a large open-science sample: a BiAffect iOS study
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, this paper seeks to capture the effects of mood, demographics, and time-of- day on keyboard metadata.
Ubiquitous technologies can be leveraged to construct ecologically relevant metrics that complement traditional psychological assessments. This study aims to determine the feasibility of smartphone-derived real-world keyboard metadata to serve as digital biomarkers of mood.
Materials and Methods
BiAffect, a real-world observation study based on a freely available iPhone app, allowed the unobtrusive collection of typing metadata through a custom virtual keyboard that replaces the default keyboard. User demographics and self-reports for depression severity (Patient Health Questionnaire-8) were also collected. Using >14 million keypresses from 250 users who reported demographic information and a subset of 147 users who additionally completed at least 1 Patient Health Questionnaire, we employed hierarchical growth curve mixed-effects models to capture the effects of mood, demographics, and time of day on keyboard metadata.
We analyzed 86 541 typing sessions associated with a total of 543 Patient Health Questionnaires. Results showed that more severe depression relates to more variable typing speed (P < .001), shorter session duration (P < .001), and lower accuracy (P < .05). Additionally, typing speed and variability exhibit a diurnal pattern, being fastest and least variable at midday. Older users exhibit slower and more variable typing, as well as more pronounced slowing in the evening. The effects of aging and time of day did not impact the relationship of mood to typing variables and were recapitulated in the 250-user group.
Keystroke dynamics, unobtrusively collected in the real world, are significantly associated with mood despite diurnal patterns and effects of age, and thus could serve as a foundation for constructing digital biomarkers.