Interoception and self-report

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Chapter 4 endnote 22, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

Self-reports of bodily sensations rarely correspond to actual sensitivity.

Self-reports of bodily sensations rarely correspond to actual sensitivity to bodily sensations, however, and these reports are more like beliefs about sensations.[1]

Remember this the next time you read about an experiment that makes claims about emotions in the body based on test subjects' self-reports. For example, in one study,[2] 701 people (Finnish, Swedish, Taiwanese) were shown body silhouettes and asked to color the regions whose activity increased or decreased as they viewed emotional words, stories, movies, and basic emotion faces.[3] Based on these self-reports, the authors claimed proposed that "emotions are represented in the somatosensory system as culturally universal categorical somatotopic maps." This paper, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used people's beliefs about where emotions are located in the body to make claims about how emotions actually manifest in the body.

Notes on the Notes

  1. Aronson, K. R., Barrett, L.F., & Quigley, K. S.  (2001). Feeling your body or feeling badly: Evidence for the limited validity of the somatosensory amplification scale as an index of somatic sensitivity.  Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 51, 387-394. 
  2. Nummenmaa, Lauri, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, and Jari K. Hietanen. 2014. "Bodily maps of emotions." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (2): 646-651.
  3. Also see Orlagh O’Brien, 2006, Emotionally Vague; Masters of Arts in Graphic Design, London College of Communication, University of the Arts