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Alexithymia and emotion regulation
Curtin University, School of Population Health, Perth, Australia ; Curtin University, Curtin enAble Institute, Perth, Australia ; University of Western Australia, School of Psychological Science, Perth, Australia.
Stanford University, Department of Psychology, Stanford, United States.
Stanford University, Department of Psychology, Stanford, United States.
University of Skövde, School of Bioscience. University of Skövde, Systems Biology Research Environment. Stanford University, Department of Psychology, Stanford, United States ; University of Turku, Department of Psychology and Speech-Language Pathology, Finland ; University of Turku, Turku Brain and Mind Center, Finland. (Kognitiv Neurovetenskap och Filosofi, Consciousness and Cognitive Neuroscience)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1926-6138
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2023 (English)In: Journal of Affective Disorders, ISSN 0165-0327, E-ISSN 1573-2517, Vol. 324, p. 232-238Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

Alexithymia is a key transdiagnostic risk factor for emotion-based psychopathologies. Conceptual models specify that this is because alexithymia impairs emotion regulation. However, the extent of these putative emotion regulation impairments remains underexplored. Our aim in this study was to begin to address this gap by examining whether people with high, average, or low levels of alexithymia differ in the types of emotion regulation strategies they typically use.

Method

General community adults from the United States (N = 501) completed a battery of alexithymia and emotion regulation measures. Participants were grouped into high, average, and low alexithymia quantiles.

Results

After controlling for demographics and current levels of distress, the high, average, and low alexithymia groups differed in their use of cognitive and behavioral emotion regulation strategies. Compared to the other groups, the high alexithymia group reported lesser use of generally adaptive regulation strategies (cognitive reappraisal, approaching problems, and seeking social support) and greater use of generally maladaptive regulation strategies (expressive suppression, behavioral withdrawal, ignoring).

Limitations

Our data were cross-sectional and from self-report questionnaires. Future work in other cultural groups would be beneficial.

Conclusions

Our results support the view that alexithymia is associated with impaired emotion regulation. In particular, people with high alexithymia seem to exhibit a less adaptive profile of emotion regulation strategies. Direct targeting of these emotion regulation patterns in psychotherapy may therefore be a useful pathway for the treatment of emotional disorder symptoms in people with high alexithymia.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2023. Vol. 324, p. 232-238
Keywords [en]
alexithymia, emotion regulation, individual differences, strategies, cognitive, behavioral, process model of emotion regulation
National Category
Natural Sciences Psychology
Research subject
Consciousness and Cognitive Neuroscience
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-22167DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2022.12.065ISI: 000918362600001PubMedID: 36566943Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85145730520OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-22167DiVA, id: diva2:1722937
Note

Available online 23 December 2022

Available from: 2023-01-01 Created: 2023-01-01 Last updated: 2023-02-16Bibliographically approved

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Sikka, Pilleriin

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