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Research Library

When the Self Dwells in the Heart: How a Heart‑Located Attentional Stance Facilitates a Felt Sense of Connection

    • Published: 2024
    • Marie Sester
    • Dissertation, Doctor of Philosophy in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology, Faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies, 2024.
    • Download the complete paper, click here.


Prior studies demonstrate that self-location in the heart or in the head is associated with particular measures of personality and behavior. This quantitative study seeks to extend existing knowledge by asking how self-location impacts perceptions of self and relationship in individuals who have had an intense felt sense of connection to others. In order to identify self-location in participants, a 14-item survey measure was developed and tested based on empirical results from prior studies that indicated specific behavioral correlations with head-located and heart-located individuals. This measure was expected to be largely congruent with, but potentially more objective than, self-location as identified on a body map. This measure was used to divide 218 participants into heart-located (n = 115) and head-located (n = 103) participants and was found to have better than 90% correlation with participant self-location on a body map, confirming expectations. All participants completed measures of self-construal (Self-Construal Questionnaire; Metapersonal Self Scale); self-expansiveness (Self- Expansiveness Level Form); connectedness with self, others, and world (Watts Connectedness Scale; Inclusion of Other in the Self); and qualities of relational connection (Qualities of Connection Measure).

Results showed significant differences between head and heart self- location in relationship to a metapersonal self-construal, connectedness with self and world, and association of relational connection with terms such as warmth and heartfelt. These results provide evidence that self-location impacts additional dimensions of personality, along with degrees and qualities of connection. This finding suggests that self-location may substantively impact the constructed interface between self and other, such that head-located and heart- located individuals may differ in their understanding of what connectedness entails.