Antisocial and impulsive personality traits are linked to individual differences in somatosensory maps of emotion

Sci Rep. 2023 Jan 12;13(1):675. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-27880-1.


Somatosensory experience is an important component of emotion, playing a prominent role in many traditional emotion theories. Nonetheless, and despite the extensive literature on the influence of individual differences in emotional processing, the relation between personality traits and emotion-related somatosensation has received little attention. Here, we addressed this question in a large sample of healthy individuals through the "bodily maps of emotion" behavioural paradigm, in which participants indicated the location and extent of their body sensations for the 6 basic and 4 additional social emotions (contempt, envy, pride, shame). We found that emotional somatosensation in specific body areas, including the heart, the stomach, and the head, was related to specific personality factors, particularly antisocial attitudes and impulsivity. Moreover, the similarity of individual participants' maps to the group-average was likewise negatively correlated with antisocial tendencies. Overall, our results suggest that differences in individuals' sensitivity to somatosensation from different body areas, as well as the typicality of their topographical patterns, may partly underlie variation in higher-order social and affective traits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Individuality*
  • Phenotype
  • Sensation