Measurement of Body Awareness

    Project Details


    The notion of body awareness is a core concept in the Danish tradition of psychomotor therapy. One often used definition describes body awareness as “awareness of the bodily functions, its condition, needs and possibilities. This awareness builds upon a conscious registration of sensory inputs from the body and knowledge of how the body works." [1] (our translation). The connection between the sensed and the psychological body is thought to be of vital importance to the clients’ adaptive well being, in that the sensed body has to be perceived in a clear way in order to form a realistic psychic representation of the body.

    Internationally, there is a growing body of research on body awareness and its connections with health related functioning. It has, for instance, been demonstrated that body awareness is related to decreased levels of self-objectification [2], better balance between work stress and recovery [3], increased levels of social and physical activity [3], enhanced regulation of emotion [4], improved memory [6] and enhanced brain activity during decision-making [5]. These examples show the psycho-social impact of increasing body awareness and thereby the relevance of learning more about the concept.

    Despite the blooming international research into the field, the Danish psychomotor tradition has not, until now, been been linked to this research in any systematic manner or used any standardized measuring tool. In order to remedy this situation, there is a pressing need to conceptually refine the notion of body awareness so that it can be linked to the international research and to develop standardized tools for measuring body awareness which can be used in Danish settings in order for us to participate in this research as well. for research as well as clinical practice.

    MAIA [7], a recently introduced questionnaire seems to align well with the Danish Body Awareness concept. It measures body awareness along eight dimensions (Noticing, Not-Distracting, Not-worrying, Attention regulation, Emotional awareness, Self-regulation, Body listening and Trusting) and shows very promising psychometric properties.

    While MAIA measures the self reported body awareness, we wish to develop a supplementing tool that clinically measures body awareness through psychomotor practice tests where the results of the testee and the tester is compared.


    The overall practical aim of the project is to provide tools for measuring body awareness that can be used for research and in clinical practise in Danish settings and to establish reliability, validity and practical usability of both types of measures.

    The specific objectives are: a) to language adapt and validate a Danish version of MAIA, b) to commence development of a supplemental psychometric validated instrument ('clinical tests') for measuring interoceptive awareness which is suited for use in psychomotor practice.

    The final Danish version of MAIA will be made available in the fall of 2016.

    [1] Moltke, Ane (1996): Kropsligt arbejde i socialpsykiatrien. Afspændingspædagogen 6/96.

    [2] Impett, Emily A.; Daubenmier, Jennifer J. & Hirschman L. (2006): Minding the Body: Yoga, Embodiment, and Well-Being. Sexuality Research & Social Policy Journal of NSRC December 2006 Vol. 3, No. 4

    [3] Landsman-Dijkstra, Jeanet J.A.; Wijckb, Ruud van & Groothoff, Johan W. (2004): Improvement of balance between work stress and recovery after a body awareness program for chronic aspecific psychosomatic symptoms. Elsevier Patient Education and Counseling 60 (2006) 125–135

    [4] Pollatos, Olga, Kirsch, Wladimir & Schandry, Rainer (2005): On the relationship between interoceptive awareness, emotional experience, and brain processes. Elsevier Cognitive Brain Research 25 (2005) 948 – 962

    [5] Werner, Natalie S.; Schweitzer, Nicola; Meindl, Thomas; Duschek, Stefan; Kambeitz, Joseph & Schandrya, Rainer (2013): Interoceptive awareness moderates neural activity during decision-making. Elsevier Biological phychology

    [6] Garfinkel, Sarah N., Adam B. Barrett, Ludovico Minati, Raymond J. Dolan, Anil K. Seth, and Hugo D. Critchley.(2013) “What the Heart Forgets: Cardiac Timing Influences Memory for Words and Is Modulated by Metacognition and Interoceptive Sensitivity: Cardiac Timing and Memory.” Psychophysiology 50, no. 6 (June 2013): 505–12. doi:10.1111/psyp.12039.

    [7] Mehling, W. E., Price, C., Daubenmier, J. J., Acree, M., Bartmess, E., & Stewart, A. (2012). The Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA). PLoS ONE, 7(11), e48230.
    Effective start/end date19/08/14 → …

    Collaborative partners

    • (lead)
    • University of Copenhagen (Project partner)


    • evidence
    • evaluation
    • stress


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