Feeling your body or feeling badly: evidence for the limited validity of the Somatosensory Amplification Scale as an index of somatic sensitivity

J Psychosom Res. 2001 Jul;51(1):387-94. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(01)00216-1.


Objective: The Somatosensory Amplification Scale (SSAS) purports to measure the extent to which individuals are sensitive to their bodies. The present study examined the psychometric properties of the SSAS in two studies with university students.

Methods: Participants completed the SSAS, various cross-sectional measures of somatic and psychological distress, longitudinal measures of somatic symptoms, daily hassles and mood, and participated in a heartbeat detection task (Study 2 only).

Results: The SSAS was correlated with cross-sectional measures of somatic symptom reporting, but not with somatic symptoms reported on a daily basis nor with an index of interoceptive sensitivity. The SSAS was also correlated with several indices of general distress including anxious and depressive symptoms, daily hassles, and negative emotionality.

Conclusion: Taken together, the results suggest that the SSAS is more likely an index of negative emotionality and general distress than a valid measure of somatic sensitivity per se.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Body Image*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychometrics
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires