The relationship between interoceptive emotional awareness, neuroticism, and depression, anxiety, and stress

Author: Natasha Grimble1, Jessica Scarfo1, Jessica Katherveloo1, Michael Ganci2, Michelle Ball1, Emra Suleyman1
1 Institute for Health and Sport (IHES), Victoria University, Footscray, Victoria, Australia.
2 Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.
Conference/Journal: PLoS One
Date published: 2024 Apr 16
Other: Volume ID: 19 , Issue ID: 4 , Pages: e0299835 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0299835. , Word Count: 290

COVID-19 has caused challenges to daily living globally, with profound implications for negative mood. A variety of state and trait-based factors can influence how a person may respond and adapt to challenges such as a global pandemic. Personality is an area impacting how a person responds to both internal and external situations (trait) and Emotional Awareness (EA) is a facet of interoception (an awareness of the mind-body connection) that determines the way an individual interprets their physiological state of the body, and the associated emotions (state-trait). Both areas have been well researched in isolation, however the body of literature exploring the relationships between both is much smaller. It would therefore be beneficial to explore the interrelationships of both state and trait factors on wellbeing to enable a more comprehensive understanding. It was hypothesised that EA would moderate the relationship between Neuroticism and Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. Participants residing in Australia during periods of imposed lockdown were included within the study (n = 838; Ages = 18-60 years) and completed an online questionnaire battery including a variety of state and trait questionnaires. A moderation analysis was conducted to explore whether Emotional Awareness changed the relationship between neuroticism and depression, anxiety, and stress utilising an alpha of < .05. EA moderated the relationship between Neuroticism and Anxiety (p = .001, 95% CI .03-.17)), and Stress (p = .02 95% CI.01-.13), but not Depression (p = .23, 95% CI .03-.13). As Neuroticism increased, negative mood increased for all levels of EA, however those high in Neuroticism and EA displayed the highest Anxiety and Stress. Interventions to increase EA, such as mindfulness, may have adverse effects for individuals high in Neuroticism, emphasising the importance of tailored interventions and supporting the assumption that high levels of Neuroticism represent increased vulnerability during a pandemic.

PMID: 38626106 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0299835