Gender differences in the interoceptive awareness: a pilot study on Italian people

Anna Re, Sonia Malvica, Chiara Lucifora, Pietro Perconti, Domenica Bruni


Background: Bodily self-recognition requires the individual to be able to refer to himself through a reflexive representation, typically a schema or an image of one’s own body. Body ownership results from an interplay between exteroception and interoception (i.e., the ability to perceive one’s own body from the inside). It has been demonstrated that perceiving sensations inside the body could be associated with better regulation of emotions. Also, it has been reported that interoceptive awareness may be affected by gender. Therefore, this pilot study aimed to investigate gender differences in the interoceptive awareness among Italian people.

Methods: 114 Italian volunteers (57 males and 57 females) completed the 32-item Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) questionnaire to measure the multiple dimensions of interoceptive awareness.

Results: The findings showed higher scores among females than among males for the ability to notice interoceptive input and the awareness of the relationship between bodily sensations and emotional states.

Conclusions: Results suggested that women could be more inclined to notice and focus on internal cues. Also, the gender differences could be related to physical and hormonal changes that women experience during development. Future research on the relationship between gender and physiological responses (e.g., heartbeat, skin conductance) for a specific ethnographic sample is recommended.


Bodily Self; Gender Differences; Interoception; Emotional States; MAIA.

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