: Mental representations with bodily contents or in various bodily formats have been suggested to play a pivotal role in social cognition, including empathy. However, there is a lack of systematic studies investigating, in the same sample of participants and using an individual differences approach, whether and to what extent the sensorimotor, perceptual, and interoceptive representations of the body could fulfill an explanatory role in the empathic abilities.To address this goal, we carried out two studies in which healthy adults were given measures of interoceptive sensibility (IS), action (aBR), and nonaction-oriented body representations (NaBR), and affective, cognitive, and motor empathy. A higher tendency to be self-focused on interoceptive signals predicted higher affective, cognitive, and motor empathy levels. A better performance in tasks probing aBR and NaBR predicted, respectively, higher motor and cognitive empathy levels.These findings support the view that the various facets of the empathic response are differently grounded in the body since they diversely involve representations with a different bodily format.Individual differences in the focus on one's internal body state representation can directly modulate all the components of the empathic experience. Instead, a body representation used interpersonally to represent both one's own body and others' bodies, in particular in its spatial specificity, could be necessary to accurately understand other people's minds (cognitive empathy), while a sensorimotor body representation used to represent both one's own body and others' bodies actions, could be fundamental for the self-awareness of feelings expressed in actions (motor empathy).

The bodily fundament of empathy: The role of action, nonaction-oriented, and interoceptive body representations

Raimo, Simona
;
Gaita, Mariachiara;Canino, Silvia;Torchia, Valentina;Palermo, Liana
2023-01-01

Abstract

: Mental representations with bodily contents or in various bodily formats have been suggested to play a pivotal role in social cognition, including empathy. However, there is a lack of systematic studies investigating, in the same sample of participants and using an individual differences approach, whether and to what extent the sensorimotor, perceptual, and interoceptive representations of the body could fulfill an explanatory role in the empathic abilities.To address this goal, we carried out two studies in which healthy adults were given measures of interoceptive sensibility (IS), action (aBR), and nonaction-oriented body representations (NaBR), and affective, cognitive, and motor empathy. A higher tendency to be self-focused on interoceptive signals predicted higher affective, cognitive, and motor empathy levels. A better performance in tasks probing aBR and NaBR predicted, respectively, higher motor and cognitive empathy levels.These findings support the view that the various facets of the empathic response are differently grounded in the body since they diversely involve representations with a different bodily format.Individual differences in the focus on one's internal body state representation can directly modulate all the components of the empathic experience. Instead, a body representation used interpersonally to represent both one's own body and others' bodies, in particular in its spatial specificity, could be necessary to accurately understand other people's minds (cognitive empathy), while a sensorimotor body representation used to represent both one's own body and others' bodies actions, could be fundamental for the self-awareness of feelings expressed in actions (motor empathy).
2023
Body representation
Body schema
Empathy
Interoception
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12317/82337
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