Automated Detection of Stressful Conversations Using Wearable Physiological and Inertial Sensors


Stressful conversation is a frequently occurring stressor in our daily life. Stressors not only adversely affect our physical and mental health but also our relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. In this paper, we present a model to automatically detect stressful conversations using wearable physiological and inertial sensors. We conducted a lab and a field study with cohabiting couples to collect ecologically valid sensor data with temporally-precise labels of stressors. We introduce the concept of stress cycles, i.e., the physiological arousal and recovery, within a stress event. We identify several novel features from stress cycles and show that they exhibit distinguishing patterns during stressful conversations when compared to physiological response due to other stressors. We observe that hand gestures also show a distinct pattern when stress occurs due to stressful conversations. We train and test our model using field data collected from 38 participants. Our model can determine whether a detected stress event is due to a stressful conversation with an F1-score of 0.83, using features obtained from only one stress cycle, facilitating intervention delivery within 3.9 minutes since the start of a stressful conversation.

Publication Title

Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies