Thursday, January 7, 2016

Interoceptive Awareness is Positively Related to Emotion Regulation

Jennifer R. Abbott, School of Psychology

Difficulties in emotion regulation underlie the sequelae of many painful mental disorders, and can lead to self-injurious behavior, substance abuse, and relationship problems. Awareness of interoceptive stimuli has been implicated in contributing to difficulties in emotion regulation by increasing emotional sensitivity and by enhancing the intensity of emotion. Clinicians have described the utility of interoceptive awareness in the treatment of emotion dysregulation. Little is known about interoceptive awareness and how it functions to have such a bidirectional effect on emotion regulation. Using a non-clinical population of university students (N=167), this study examined the relationship between interoceptive awareness in emotion regulation and whether mindfulness functioned to moderate the direction of this relationship. Pearson product-moment correlation analyses and hierarchical multiple regression were conducted to examine the relationships among variables, as measured by scores on the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale, the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, and the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness. A significant positive relationship was found between interoceptive awareness and emotion regulation, substantiating claims that interoceptive awareness can aid in emotion regulation. Mindfulness was not found to have a moderating effect, but was significantly related to increases in emotion regulation difficulty. However, a post hoc exploratory analysis did reveal a moderation effect. A better understanding of these relationships will equip clinicians to treat individuals with emotion regulation deficits more effectively.

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