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Figure 1.

Differences in negative affect between high temp and low tempo groups

Levels of Negative Affect

The present study measured the relationship between levels of interoceptive awareness and negative affect during a music mood induction in 17 women between the ages of 18 and 25. Preliminary analyses suggested that participants listening to music with a high tempo experienced greater levels of anxiety as compared to participants listening to music with a low tempo. Consistent with our predictions, participants with higher levels of interoceptive awareness reported higher levels of negative affect following the music-mood induction. Emotional experiences are accompanied by intense and often abrupt changes in physiological states. Anxiety in particular is strongly affiliated with noticeable bodily changes such as increased heart rate. Studies have suggested that awareness of internal states (e.g., heart rate) may determine the intensity at which emotions are experienced (Pollatos et al, 2007). Interoceptive awareness is a term that is used to describe the degree of an individuals sensitivity to such physiological states (Pollatos, Traut-Mattaucsch, Shroeder, & Schandry, 2006). Several studies have demonstrated that the degree of interoceptive awareness can be assessed by measuring an individuals ability to accurately perceive their own heart rate (Cameron, 2001; Pollatos, Gramann & Schandry, 2007). In this study we measured the relationship between interoceptive awareness and reported anxiety during exposure to songs expected to increase heart rate. One group listened to a high tempo anxiety-provoking song and one listened to a low tempo anxiety-provoking song. We expected that individuals who perceive bodily signals with a high level of accuracy would experience emotions more intensely when their heart rate is increased by a high tempo song in comparison to a low tempo song.

Subjective anxiety was measured using an adapted Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). This 22item questionnaire assessed positive and negative mood and was administered prior to and immediately after music exposure. Based on Pollatos et al. (2007) protocol, Interoceptive Awareness was measured by asking participants to guess their heart rate during a state of rest and immediately after an isometric exercise developed by Pollatos and colleagues (2007) described earlier. Objective measures of heart rate was measured using an electrocardiogram (EKG). This non-invasive technique involved placing one electrode on the top torso area below the collar bone, one below the rib case and another on the right ankle. State anxiety was measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI; Spielberger., Gorsuch., & Lushene 1970), a 20-item self-reported questionnaire (10 positive-affect items and 10 negative-affect items). Anxiety sensitivity was measured using the Anxiety Sensitivity Inventory (ASI; Reiss, Peterson, & Gursky, 1986). This 16-item questionnaire measures fear of anxiety and degree of anxiety symptoms including increased heart rate. Anxiety-related thoughts associated with fear of elevated heart rate were measured with the Agoraphobic Cognitions Questionnaire (ACQ; Chambless, Caputo, Bright & Gallagher, 1984). This 14-item questionnaire assesses perceived ability to control external events.
Table 1. Changes in negative affect between groups before and after a music mood induction


Low Tempo Group High Tempo Group





Pre Music Neg. Affect Mean High Tempo Group (n=10) Low Tempo Group (n=4) 7.3 6 Std. Deviation 1.88856 0

Post Music Neg. Affect Mean 16.8 11.5 Std. Deviation 8.45642 3.41565

Women between the ages of 18 and 25 came into the laboratory for a 1-hour session during which levels of interoceptive awareness were measured using a protocol developed by Pollatos and colleagues (2007). Participants were first asked to count their heart beats during four different time intervals (35, 25, 45, and 60 seconds) without taking their pulse. Following the counting procedure, participants completed a physical stress exercise that involved squeezing a hand-grip with their dominant hand continuously for two minutes. After the exercise the participants were asked once again to count their heart beat during four time intervals. Objective measures derived from an electrocardiogram (EKG) were compared to the estimates provided by the participants to assess their accuracy. Following this procedure participants were left alone in a dimly-lit private room and were instructed to sit on a recliner chair and close their eyes while listening to a song played through headphones. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups: One group listened to an anxiety-producing song with a high tempo and the other group listened to an anxiety-producing song with a low tempo. Negative affect was measured before and during the music mood-induction with a paper and pencil questionnaire. Selected questionnaires were used to assess levels of state anxiety, anxiety sensitivity and panic-related cognitions.

Data from 3 participants was excluded due to technical problems during data acquisition. The sample used for the following analyses consists of 10 individuals in the High Tempo group and 4 individuals in the Low Tempo group. We used a within-subjects repeated measurement analysis to compare negative affect (Table.1) prior to and during the music (repeated measurement) between groups (High Tempo vs. Low Tempo), and between different levels of Interoceptive Awareness (continuous variable). Also, the interaction between Groups and Interoceptive Awareness was tested. As illustrated in Figure 1, preliminary findings indicate a potential association between higher reported negative affect in the high tempo group in comparison to the low tempo group. A series of correlations were computed on changes in negative affect during the music condition (during music negative affect pre music negative affect) with Interoceptive Awareness, Anxiety Sensitivity, Agoraphobic symptoms and State Anxiety. The sample size prevents us from making clear extrapolations from these data. However, a medium correlation coefficient (Cohen, 1987) was observed between Interoceptive Awareness and Negative Affect (r = .235). Also, indication of a potential negative correlation was observed between Interoceptive Awareness and Anxiety Sensitivity (r = -.293).

Consistent with our prediction, data showed that music with a higher tempo produced a greater increase in heart rate as well as subjective negative responses than music with a low tempo. We also observed a trend towards a positive relationship between interoceptive awareness and anxiety. This relationship suggested that individuals whom demonstrated a greater level of awareness of their internal states experienced greater negative affect during the music mood induction. Additionally, we found a trend between greater interoceptive awareness and lower anxiety sensitivity. Taken together, these findings suggest that individuals who have an accurate sense of internal states are more likely to experience negative affect when external stimuli increase their heart rate, but they are also less likely to fear these responses (low anxiety sensitivity). Indeed, the literature on anxiety disorders indicates that individuals who suffer from anxiety symptoms do not differ in physiological responses to stressors from healthy controls, but tend to show greater negative interpretations of emotional responses (my heart rate is increasing - I may have a heart attack) which eventually leads to greater avoidance of interoceptive responses. Due to our small sample size these results are preliminary and more data collection and analyses need to be preformed before additional conclusions can be made.

Cameron, O. G. (2001). Interoception: the inside story- a model for psychosomatic processes. Psychosomatic Medicine, 63, 697-710. Pollatos, O., Gramann, K., & Schandry, R. (2007). Neural systems connecting interoceptive awareness and feelings. Human Brain Mapping, 28, 9-18. Pollatos, O., Herbert, B. M., Kaufmann, C., Auer, D. P., & Schandry, R. (2007). Interoceptive awareness, anxiety and cardiovascular reactivity to isometric exercise. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 65, 167-173. Pollatos, O., Traut-Mattaucsch, E., Shroeder, H., Schandry, R. (2006). Interoceptive awareness mediates the relationship between anxiety and the intensity of unpleasant feelings. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 21, 931-943

This project was supported by the Undergraduate Research Endeavors Competitive Awards program (URECA!). I am grateful for the tremendous help that Dr. Rellini and all the research assistants at SHRC provided me through the course of this study.