Tuesday 25 July 2017

Listening to heart is key to understanding others

Those who had counted their heart beats most accurately were better at answering questions relating to characters’ emotions. Stock Image
Those who had counted their heart beats most accurately were better at answering questions relating to characters’ emotions. Stock Image

John von Radowitz

Listening to your heart really could be the key to communicating on an emotional level, new research suggests.

Being able to perceive one's own heartbeat is linked to success in understanding other people's emotions, scientists have discovered.

In tests, volunteers were asked to count their heart beats without feeling a pulse to see how aware they were of internal bodily sensations.

Participants were then shown video clips of social interactions which assessed their ability to "read the minds" of the characters.

During the clips they were asked what the characters were feeling and thinking, as well as non-social questions such as 'what was the weather like?'

Those who had counted their heart beats most accurately were better at answering questions relating to characters' emotions.

But there was no association between their "interoceptive ability" to perceive internal sensations and correct answers to non-social questions.

Psychologist Punit Shah, from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, offered an explanation for the findings, reported in the journal 'Cortex'.

He said: "An example of this could be if your colleague Michael is aggressive towards Sandra on public transport, your body processes this by increasing your heart rate, perhaps making you feel awkward and anxious, enabling you to understand that Sandra is embarrassed.

"If you do not feel your heart rate increase, it may reduce your ability to understand that situation and respond appropriately.

"Our study shows the psychological processes involved in mind reading, while also highlighting that internal sensations may be linked to a range of psychological abilities."

Irish Independent

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