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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02589

Interoception and Social Connection

  • 1University of California, San Diego, United States
  • 2Knox College, United States
  • 3University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland

Interoception—the process of sensing bodily signals, has gained much interest in recent years, due to its role in physical and mental well-being. Here, we focus on the role of interoception in social connection, which is a relatively new and growing research area. Studies in this area suggest that interoception may help in appraising physiological signals in social situations, but also that (challenging) social situations may reduce interoceptive processing by shifting attention from internally- to externally-focused. We discuss potential mechanisms for the influence of interoception on social connection and highlight that flexibility in engaging interoception in social situations may be particularly important. We end with a discussion of loneliness—an extreme case of poor social connection, which is associated with physiological decline and increased mortality risk, and propose that interoceptive dysregulation is involved. We suggest that interventions aimed to improve interoceptive abilities, such as mindfulness-based meditation practices, may be key for alleviating loneliness and improving social connection.

Keywords: interoception, Loneliness, social connection, emotion, Health, Social cognition (SC)

Received: 22 Jun 2019; Accepted: 31 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Arnold, Winkielman and Dobkins. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Andrew J. Arnold, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, United States, ajarnold@ucsd.edu