Interoception, Social Exclusion and Emotion Regulation

  • E. Matthias
  • O. Pollatos


Background Social exclusion is associated with adverse effects for health. The ability to regulate emotional responses to such events is therefore essential for our well-being. As individual differences in detecting bodily signals (interoceptive sensitivity) have been associated with advantages in emotion regulation, we aimed at exploring whether interoceptive sensitivity is associated with better coping of social exclusion and more flexibility in emotion regulation. Method The first study investigated subjective feelings in response to ostrycism using a cyberball paradigm. Sixty participants were assessed who differed with respect to interoceptive sensitivity. The second study examined habitual emotion regulation processes focusing on suppression and reappraisal in 116 participants. Results Higher interoceptive sensitivity was accompanied by reduced negative affect during social exclusion. Interoceptive sensitivity was associated with greater use of both reappraisal as well as suppression. Discussion We conclude that having access to bodily signals helps reducing aversive states provoked by social exclusion, probably by the more flexible use of emotion regulation strategies.