ALEXITHYMIA: A CRITICAL REVIEW AND EMPIRICAL TEST OF VOCAL EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIVE DIFFERENCES IN ALEXITHYMIC AND NON-ALEXITHYMIC UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

JOHN STEVEN KRUCK, Marquette University

Abstract

The term alexithymia, is literally defined as "without words for feelings". From a conceptual perspective, however, the alexithymia phenomenon refers to a cluster of ideo-affective attributes which include: (1) a difficulty in expressing feelings, (2) an inhibition of fantasy and symbolic activity, (3) a concrete, operatory style of thought and behavior, (4) a stereotypic manner relating to others. The alexithymia concept was critically reviewed from historical, etiological, clinical, psychotherapeutic and research perspectives. It was found that, in spite of a growing body of literature, the definition of alexithymia is still not grounded upon a firm foundation of empirical evidence. A study was designed to measure emotional expressive abilities/inabilities in alexithymic and non-alexithymic undergraduate students. Unlike prior research, the study was constructed to test differences in vocal expression rather than verbal expression. Male and female subjects designated as alexithymic and non-alexithymic attempted to express five emotions using the same neutral paragraph to express each emotion. Each emotional expression was recorded on audio tape. The taped expressions were played back to 200 additional undergraduate judges. Each judge attempted to correctly name the presented emotion. Score accuracy, the dependent measure, was computed as a ratio of correct to incorrect judgements. Results demonstrated that male alexithymic subjects had greater difficulty than male non-alexithymic subjects in communicating emotions. This was not true for female comparisons. The findings for males supported the notion of an alexithymic affective deficit. The lack of differences between female groups suggested a need for more research on the relationship between gender and alexthymic presence. In addition it was demonstrated that the content-free method of research is a viable design for testing the relationship between alexithymia and emotional communication.

Recommended Citation

JOHN STEVEN KRUCK, "ALEXITHYMIA: A CRITICAL REVIEW AND EMPIRICAL TEST OF VOCAL EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIVE DIFFERENCES IN ALEXITHYMIC AND NON-ALEXITHYMIC UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS" (January 1, 1986). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8708726.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8708726

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