Interoceptive sensitivity predicts sensitivity to the emotions of others

Yuri Terasawa, Yoshiya Moriguchi, Saiko Tochizawa, Satoshi Umeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


Some theories of emotion emphasise a close relationship between interoception and subjective experiences of emotion. In this study, we used facial expressions to examine whether interoceptive sensibility modulated emotional experience in a social context. Interoceptive sensibility was measured using the heartbeat detection task. To estimate individual emotional sensitivity, we made morphed photos that ranged between a neutral and an emotional facial expression (i.e., anger, sadness, disgust and happy). Recognition rates of particular emotions from these photos were calculated and considered as emotional sensitivity thresholds. Our results indicate that participants with accurate interoceptive awareness are sensitive to the emotions of others, especially for expressions of sadness and happy. We also found that false responses to sad faces were closely related with an individual's degree of social anxiety. These results suggest that interoceptive awareness modulates the intensity of the subjective experience of emotion and affects individual traits related to emotion processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1435-1448
Number of pages14
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Nov 1


  • Anxiety
  • Emotion
  • Facial expression
  • Interoception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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