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Accuracy of respiratory symptom perception in persons with high and low negative affectivity

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Accuracy of respiratory symptom perception was investigated in different contexts in participants (N = 56) scoring high or low for negative affectivity (NA). Within subject-correlations were calculated between minute ventilation (frequency per minute × tidal volume) and the subjective symptom 'faster and/or deeper breathing' across 10 subsequent breathing trials of 2 min with varying air mixtures, containing fresh or foul smelling odours and/or 5.5% CO2. Half the participants were given a positive information frame for the sensations ('some air mixtures may induce a pleasantly arousing feeling, like when being in love'), whereas the other half was given a negative frame ('some air mixtures may induce feelings of being anxious and distressed'). Interoceptive accuracy was overall fairly high (r = 0.56-0.74), but it dropped considerably (r = 0.27), when bodily sensations were induced in high NA persons in a negative information frame (interaction, p < 0.005). Interoceptive accuracy appears low when persons with high NA are in situations characterised by negative affective cues.
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Keywords: Accuracy; Interoception; Negative affectivity; Respiration; Symptom perception

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology University of Leuven Tiensestraat 102 B-3000 Leuven Belgium

Publication date: April 1, 2004

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