Trait patterns of internal attention differentially mediate the relationship between interoceptive attention and emotional regulation

Chris Brown, Aleksandra Herman

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Trait interoceptive attention reflects the proportion of attentional resources an individual typically allocates to physiological signals. It has, however, yet to be established how interoceptive attention relates with other forms of internally focused attention, such as those to streams of internal thought (e.g., mind-wandering, reflection, worry), and whether these factors compete for limited attentional resources at the trait level. In a sample of 222 participants, we isolated two factors from factor analysis of different established measures of attention to thoughts, these reflected automatic attention (i.e., worry, rumination), and controlled attention (i.e., deliberate mind-wandering, reflection). Interoceptive attention was positively correlated with both these internal attention factors. Further, mediation analyses revealed that interoceptive attention was differentially related to facets of emotional regulation depending on which factor it was mediated through: When mediated through automatic attention it predicted poorer emotional awareness and clarity; and through controlled attention, it predicted greater emotional awareness and clarity. These relationships were largely independent of perceived interoceptive ability, suggesting an attention-specific effect. The results are discussed in terms of the interaction between attention to physical sensations and internal thoughts, and how different attentional styles are instrumental in the recognition and identification of emotional states.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 2023

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