Momentary awareness of individual bodily sensations: Individual differences and associations with affective experience
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Body awareness references attention to normal bodily processes or sensations (e.g., heart rate, breathing, and body temperature). Prior research has shown that individuals differ in the extent to which they report awareness of their bodily sensations such that heightened awareness is associated with negative affect and, in extremes, clinical symptomology (e.g., anxiety and panic disorders). In the current study, we examined associations between momentary subjective awareness of different bodily sensations and participants’ current affective experiences throughout their daily life. Participants (N=116) completed a 7-day EMA protocol in which they responded to brief surveys at random times throughout the day. For each survey, they were asked to report on their awareness of 8 bodily sensations (i.e., heartbeat, breathing, body temperature, sensations from the stomach/gut, whether they feel hungry or sated, how tired or alert their body feels, how dry or moist their skin feels, and how tight or loose their muscles feel) and rate their current affective valence and arousal. Results demonstrated that greater in-the-moment awareness of most bodily sensations was associated with feeling greater arousal and more unpleasant affect. However, for bodily sensations that involve greater mental inference (e.g. hunger and tiredness), momentary awareness was associated with only affective valence, not arousal. We also observed individual differences in the extent to which participants differentiated between the individual bodily sensations when reporting their in-the-moment awareness.
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