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Duschek, Stefan, Werner, Natalie S., Reyes del Paso, Gustavo A. and Schandry, Rainer (1. January 2015): The Contributions of Interoceptive Awareness to Cognitive and Affective Facets of Body Experience. In: Journal of Individual Differences, Vol. 36, No. 2: pp. 110-118

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Experience of one’s own body relies on signals arising within the body as well as on exteroceptive information, and on appraisal of cognitive and affective aspects of these signals. The present study investigated the impact of sensitivity to internal signals, that is, interoceptive awareness, on interindividual differences in cognitive and emotional aspects of body experience. Subjects with accurate (n = 30) versus poor (n = 30) interoceptive awareness, classified via a heartbeat perception task, completed the Body Consciousness Questionnaire and the Body Appraisal Inventory. Possible effects of emotional state on body experience were controlled for using measures of mood and anxiety. While the groups did not differ in their emotional state, individuals with accurate cardiac interoceptive awareness exhibited higher subjective sensitivity to bodily sensations and a more positive body image, characterized by stronger body-related self-confidence, greater satisfaction with physical appearance, greater perceived bodily self-control, as well as reduced hypochondriacal concerns, sexual discontent, and shame. The present findings extend earlier research on the importance of perception of physical cues for emotion, cognition, and behavior regulation. Our results underline the contribution of interoceptive information to body experience, where interindividual differences in the accessibility of such information modulate cognitive and affective facets of body image

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