Men with a low resting heart rate are at significantly greater risk of engaging in stalking behavior, according to a new study at Sam Houston State University.
The average adult resting heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute. Anything lower than 60 beats per minute is considered a low resting heart rate.
Based on arousal theory, people with low levels of arousal are less fearful, more likely to seek opportunities to pursue victims to feel stimulated, and are more likely to exhibit impulsive behaviors. Having a low resting heart rate is a biological factor previously linked to aggression and violent offending.
The study is the first to incorporate the biological factor of resting heart rate in measuring stalking behaviors. The new findings add to a growing body of evidence linking autonomic nervous system functions to antisocial behavior.
For the study, researchers recruited 384 college students from a southern university to answer a survey on stalking behaviors.
The students were asked if they had ever followed, watched, or spied on someone. They were also asked whether they had tried to communicate through a variety of written and physical methods with someone against their will over the last year. Each participant also had their heart rate monitored through a finger pulse oximeter.
Of all the participants in the sample, 32 had engaged in these stalking behaviors, including 15 females and 17 males. The study found a link between low resting heart rate and stalking in men, but did not find such a link among women.
“Participants whose heart rate was one standard deviation below the mean or lower had nearly three times the odds of having engaged in stalking as compared with all other participants, suggesting that low resting heart rate is associated with increased prevalence of stalking behavior,” said researcher Dr. Danielle Boisvert.
“Overall, our findings suggest that while heart rate is generally found to be associated with aggression and antisocial behavior across the sexes, these associations may be sex-specific when discussing stalking perpetration.”
Recent estimates suggest that 16.2 percent of women and 5.2 percent of men in the United States have been stalked at some point in their lifetime, which represents 20 million women and six million men. Stalking can lead to significant psychological, social and economic effects for victims, costing an estimated $342 million in the U.S. annually.
Source: Sam Houston University