Awareness and accuracy of perception of physiological change : personality and perceptual correlates



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Individual differences in the awareness and accuracy of perception of the bodily state were investigated by means of several discrimination tasks and by a questionnaire. Personality and perceptual correlates of these differences were investigated. Discrimination tasks involved S's estimation of their own heart rate, respiration rate and muscular tension as well as tasks involving the use of proprioceptive cues. Personality data gathered included the Birkman Personal Analysis, the Eysenck Personality Inventory, the Rotter Social Reaction Inventory, the Wais Vocabulary test and a Body Awareness questionnaire developed for this study. Perceptual style of the Ss was determined by a Rod and Frame test and a two point threshold on the inner arm was determined for all Ss. Specific predictions were made as to how the perceptual, intellectual and personality characteristics of normal S_s would be related to the individual's level of accuracy of perception of his bodily state. A hypothesized normal continuum was illustrated which described the traits of individuals falling at either extremes of the dimension. Data were collected on an individual basis with a Registered Nurse monitoring the cardiac and respiration rates under two conditions—resting and active. S's perception of their internal environment was compared with the actual state and a discrepancy measure was utilized in data analysis. For each of the tasks requiring an estimation of the change within the body an extra-somatic perception and judgment task was administered as a check on general accuracy. The Rotter Locus of Control was found to discriminate the more from the less accurate Ss on several tasks. There were no differences which reached statistical significance on task performance when grouping Ss on the Eysenck Personality Inventory. However, S's reported utilization of bodily cues in determination of emotion was related to S's position on the Eysenck Personality Inventory. It was reported that there was no relationship between awareness of bodily cues and accuracy in determining changes in autonomic activity. Recommendations for future studies utilizing the questionnaire were included.