Date Published: February 7, 2019
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Felicitas Weineck, Matthias Messner, Gernot Hauke, Olga Pollatos, Jane Elizabeth Aspell.
Interoception refers to the detection and perception of signals from the inner body. Deficits in this domain have been linked to psychopathologies, prompting the search for strategies to improve this ability. Preliminary studies have shown that interoception could be enhanced through the manipulation of subjective feelings of power. We tested the effects of adopting powerful postures on different facets of interoception. Firstly, we measured the impact of a single power posing session on interoceptive ability in 41 healthy females. Then, the same participants were randomly assigned to two conditions (daily power posing practice vs. no practice). After one week the conditions alternated. Interoceptive accuracy, measured by the heartbeat tracking task, interoceptive sensibility, measured by the Body Perception Questionnaire (BPQ) and confidence ratings, as well as subjective feelings of power were assessed at baseline, after a single power posing session and after one week of training. A single power posing session significantly increased individuals’ interoceptive accuracy. Also, power posing reduced individuals’ scores on the BPQ after one week of daily practice and increased subjective feelings of power after one session and one week of daily practice. These findings suggest that adopting powerful postures has the potential to increase interoceptive accuracy, as well as subjective feelings of power, and to reduce interoceptive sensibility, measured by questionnaire.
Interoception refers to the perception of internal bodily sensations . There is growing evidence supporting its crucial role in domains such as body ownership and selfhood [2, 3], intuitive judgment and decision-making [4, 5], emotional experience [6–8], emotional processing [9–11], behavioral self-regulation  and body image [13, 14]. Also, several studies targeting clinical populations have shown that deficits in the different interoceptive dimensions seem to be related to various psychopathologies . Low interoceptive accuracy (IAcc) has, for example, been linked to major depression [16–18] and anorexia nervosa [19–21], whereas heightened IAcc appears to be prominent in anxiety disorders [22–24]. Considering the role of interoception in mental health further, a study by Füstös et al.  found that when using cognitive reappraisal as an emotion-regulation strategy, interoceptive accuracy facilitated the down-regulation of negative affect. In keeping with this observation, Kever et al.  also showed that individuals with higher accuracy made more use of reappraisal and suppression strategies, when regulating their emotions, compared to individuals with lower interoceptive accuracy. These findings imply that the awareness of ongoing bodily processes fosters the response to affect-related arousal.
The central aim of the study was to investigate whether power posing had an effect on individuals’ interoceptive ability. Firstly, we measured the impact of a single power posing session on interoceptive ability in 41 healthy females. Then, the same participants were randomly assigned to two conditions (daily power posing practice vs. no practice). After one week the conditions alternated. Interoceptive accuracy, measured by the heartbeat tracking task and interoceptive sensibility, measured by the Body Perception Questionnaire (BPQ) as well as confidence ratings, were assessed at baseline, after a single power posing session and after one week of training. The main finding was that power posing significantly increased individuals’ interoceptive accuracy after one session of power posing. Power posing reduced interoceptive sensibility, measured by the Body Perception Questionnaire, only after one week of daily practice. In the following paragraphs, the results regarding each interoceptive dimension will be discussed in more depth, together with their clinical implications and future directions.
Our study was the first to investigate the effects of adopting powerful postures on the different dimensions of interoceptive ability. We conclude that power posing has the potential to improve interoceptive accuracy in the short-term and reduce scores on the BPQ awareness subscale after one week of practicing. Further research should investigate, whether the same effect can be found in clinical populations, which display particular deficits in interoceptive ability.