Interoceptive attention facilitates emotion regulation strategy use

Author: Yafei Tan1,2, Xiaoqin Wang3,4, Scott D Blain5, Lei Jia3, Jiang Qiu4,6,7
1 School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, Hubei Province, China.
2 Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior, Ministry of Education, Wuhan 430079, Hubei Province, China.
3 Department of Psychology, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua 321004, China.
4 Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China.
5 Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48105, United States.
6 Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality, Ministry of Education, Chongqing 400715, China.
7 Southwest University Branch, Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment Toward Basic Education Quality at Beijing Normal University.
Conference/Journal: Int J Clin Health Psychol
Date published: 2023 Jan-Apr
Other: Volume ID: 23 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 100336 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.ijchp.2022.100336. , Word Count: 242

Perception of bodily signals-or interoception-has been suggested to facilitate individuals' habitual use of emotion regulation (ER) strategies and to guide the flexible deployment of specific ER strategies. Previous research has shown that the emotional intensity of stimuli modulates regulatory choice between disengagement (i.e., distraction) and engagement strategies (i.e., reappraisal).

This study used experience-sampling methods to investigate the role of interoceptive attention in dynamic changes in ER strategies. Healthy participants first completed one-time measurements of ER strategies, emotional awareness and interoceptive attention in the lab and then reported on negative events and use of strategies including reappraisal and distraction, throughout daily life.

Results showed that interoceptive attention was positively associated with habitual use of several ER strategies, and emotional awareness mediated the relations between interoceptive attention and these ER strategies. Results also suggested an interaction between interoceptive attention and intensity of negative events; individuals with higher interoceptive attention used distraction rather than reappraisal only during high intensity negative life events, but those with lower interoceptive attention used more distraction than reappraisal, regardless of event intensity.

Overall, these findings suggest interoceptive attention may increase emotional awareness, which in turn facilitates application of certain ER strategies but also the flexible deployment of appropriate strategies tailored to a given situation. Training interoceptive attention may provide a promising way to improve ER and promote mental health.

Keywords: Emotion regulation; Emotional awareness; Experience-sampling method; Flexibility; Interoception.

PMID: 36199366 PMCID: PMC9512845 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijchp.2022.100336