Relationship between interoception and emotion regulation: new evidence from mixed methods

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Zamariola, Giorgia
Frost, Nollaig
Van Oost, Alice
Corneille, Olivier
Luminet, Olivier
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Background: Interoception is the ability to perceive one's inner bodily feelings and is thought to be associated with the capacity of recognising and experiencing emotions. Previous research on interoception and emotion regulation has presented limitations arising from the low reliability of the interoceptive measurement and provided inconsistent results. The current study used a mixed method approach to investigate this relationship from the individuals’ perspective. Methods: In the first phase (quantitative), questionnaires assessing interoceptive sensibility, the subjective, self-reported ability to perceive internal states, were administered to 100 healthy participants. In the second phase (qualitative), individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine participants. The interviews were analysed using the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three main dimensions were explored with open questions: 1) Perception of internal bodily states; 2) Emotion regulation; 3) Potential relationship between bodily states perception and emotion recognition and regulation. Results: Findings revealed that people with low interoceptive abilities show more difficulties in verbalizing their feelings and in decreasing the impact of emotions generated by negative experiences in daily life. Limitations: The generalization of the results is limited by the specific age and gender of the recruited sample. Conclusions: Responses of the participants supported recent evidence regarding the lack of reliability of the heartbeat counting task as a measure of interoceptive accuracy, however interviews sustained the importance of recognising the bodily states in order to be able to understand and regulate emotions.
Interoception , Emotion regulation , Alexithymia , Mixed method design , Interpretative phenomenological analysis
Zamariola, G., Frost, N., Van Oost, A., Corneille, O. and Luminet, O. (2019) 'Relationship between interoception and emotion regulation: New evidence from mixed methods', Journal of Affective Disorders, 246, pp. 480-485. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.12.101