Evaluating Interoceptive Crossover between emotional and physical symptoms

Laura Carter, Jane Ogden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Symptom perception is complex and influenced by a number of psychological factors, including interoceptive ability and alexithymia. Some individuals may have difficulty distinguishing between internal signals, such as emotions and physical symptoms, however research in this area is sparse. The current study aimed to explore the incidence and nature of this phenomenon, labelled, 'Interoceptive Crossover'. 239 individuals completed an online survey and rated the perceived similarity between a range of emotions (e.g., Sad, Happy, Afraid and Calm) and physical symptoms (e.g., Stomach Pain, Fatigue/Tiredness, Headache and Abnormal Heartbeat) to assess the incidence and nature of Interoceptive Crossover. Individuals demonstrated crossover between emotions and physical symptoms. Some crossovers were more unsurprising and reported by a greater proportion of the sample, such as Afraid and Abnormal Heartbeat (74.5%); Sad and Fatigue (29.4%) and Afraid and Shortness of Breath (58.5%). Other crossovers were less prevalent in the sample and more unexpected such as Satisfied with Headache (1.2%); Bored with Back Pain (5.95%) and Happy and Back Pain (0.4%). Overall, individuals demonstrate Interoceptive Crossover of emotions and physical symptoms and some crossovers are more prevalent whilst others are rare and unexpected. This phenomenon needs further study with respect to relevant constructs including alexithymia and interoception.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013
Number of pages1022
JournalPsychology, Health & Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2020


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