The Role of Body Sensations in Understanding One's Own Emotions



There are at least three different viewpoints among all theories of emotions that attempt to explain the role of body sensations in understanding one's own emotions. In order to compare the explanatory resources of these viewpoints we conducted a research in which the subjects (n=59) were shown a series of neutral and emo¬tionally significant slides (taken from the IAPS database). During the slideshow we registered the subjects' pulse and galvanic skin response. The subjects were asked to assess the intensity of their emotional reactions and body sensations in response to the emotionally significant slides, and also filled in a questionnaire on emo¬tional intelligence that enabled us to measure their ability to understand their own emotions as well as those of other people. The outcomes of our research show that sensations accompanying emotional experiences are not the result of interoception as they do not correspond with objective indicators of the changes in physio¬logical arousal, whereas they do correspond in many ways with the subjects' emotional appraisal of the stimuli and self-assessment of sensations. These outcomes also revealed that subjective evaluations of body sensations correlate with emotional valence, while heart rate (the objective indicator of arousal) correlates with modali¬ty of the emotion.

General Information

Keywords: understanding emotions, interoception, feedback theories, emotional intelligence

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Balueva O.V., Kravchenko Yu.E., Kartashov S.I. The Role of Body Sensations in Understanding One's Own Emotions. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2015. Vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 28–37. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2015110203. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. James W. The principles of psychology. New York: Holt, Personality and Social Psychology, 1974. Vol. 30, pp. 510—517. 1890. Vol. 1. 689 p. doi:
  2. Lyusin D. A new measure for emotional intelligence: 5. Marzoli D., Custodero M., Pagliara A., Tommasi L. Sun-EmIn Questionnaire. Psychological diagnostics, 2006, no. 4, induced frowning fosters aggressive feelings. Cognition and pp. 3—22. (In Russian) Emotion, 2013. Vol. 27(8), pp. 1513—1521. doi: http://dx.doi.
  3. Damasio A.R. William James and the modern neurobiol-org/10.1080/02699931.2013.801338. ogy of emotion. In Evans D. (eds.). Emotion, evolution, and 6. Mori K., Mori H. A test of the passive facial feedback rationality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 3—14. hypothesis: We feel sorry because we cry. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2007. Vol. 105 (3, Pt. 2), pp. 1242—1244. doi:
  4. Mori K., Mori H. Another test of the passive facial feed­back hypothesis: When your face smiles, you feel happy. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2009. Vol. 109(1), pp. 76—78. doi:
  5. Nesbitt P.D. Smoking, physiological arousal, and emo­tional response. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1973. Vol 25(1), pp. 137—144. doi: 1037/h0034256.
  6. Olson J.M. Misattribution, preparatory information, and speech anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psy­chology, 1988. Vol. 54(5), pp. 758—767. doi: http://dx.doi. org/10. 1037/0022-3514.54.5.758.
  7. Reisenzein R. The Schachter theory of emotion: Two decades later, Psychological Bulletin, 1983. Vol. 94(2), pp. 239—264. doi: 239.
  8. Schachter S., Singer J.E. Cognitive, social, and physio­logical determinants of emotional states. Psychological Review. 1962. Vol. 69. P. 379—399.
  9. Schubert T.W. The power in your hand: Gender differ­ences in bodily feedback from making a fist. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2004. Vol. 30(6), pp. 757—769. doi:
  10. Stepper S., Strack F. Proprioceptive determinants of emotional and nonemotional feelings. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1993. Vol. 64(2), pp. 211—220. doi:
  11. Tourangeau R., Ellsworth P.C. The role of facial response in the experience of emotion. J. of Personality and Social Psychology, 1979. Vol. 37(9), pp. 1519—1531. doi:
  12. Valins S. Cognitive effects of false heart-rate feedback. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1966. Vol. 4(4), pp. 400—408. doi:

Information About the Authors

Oksana V. Balueva, Post-Graduate Student of the Department Of General Laws of Mental Development, Institute of Psychology Named after L. S. Vygotsky, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:

Yunna E. Kravchenko, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Associate Professor, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Sergey I. Kartashov, Acting Deputy Manager of Laboratory of Experimental and Applied Psychophysiology, National Research Center “Kurchatov Institute”, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 4039
Previous month: 101
Current month: 51


Total: 3559
Previous month: 16
Current month: 8