Resting Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia Is Associated With Tonic Positive Emotionality

Christopher Oveis, Adam Cohen, June Gruber, Michelle Shiota, Jonathan Haidt, Dacher Keltner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


Resting respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA REST) indexes important aspects of individual differences in emotionality. In the present investigation, the authors address whether RSA REST is associated with tonic positive or negative emotionality, and whether RSA REST relates to phasic emotional responding to discrete positive emotion-eliciting stimuli. Across an 8-month, multiassessment study of first-year university students (n = 80), individual differences in RSA REST were associated with positive but not negative tonic emotionality, assessed at the level of personality traits, long-term moods, the disposition toward optimism, and baseline reports of current emotional states. RSA REST was not related to increased positive emotion, or stimulus-specific emotion, in response to compassion-, awe-, or pride-inducing stimuli. These findings suggest that resting RSA indexes aspects of a person's tonic positive emotionality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-270
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • biological marker
  • heart rate variability
  • positive temperament
  • vagal tone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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