Document Type




Format of Original

18 p.

Publication Date



Taylor & Francis

Source Publication

Cognition and Emotion

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1080/02699931.2014.919898


We investigated the moderating impact of the personality construct alexithymia on the ability of younger and older adults to control the recall of negative and neutral material. We conducted two experiments using the directed forgetting paradigm with younger and older adults. Participants studied negative (Experiment 1) or neutral (Experiment 2) words. Participants were instructed to forget the first half and remember the second half of an entire list of words. Overall, we found that alexithymia impairs the ability of both younger and older adults to cognitively control negative material (through both recall and inhibition). The “externally oriented thinking” factor of alexithymia appears to play a particularly pertinent role in terms of inhibiting negative material. Furthermore, older adults recalled fewer sought after negative items, but this was not evident in terms of inhibition. In contrast, only age (older adults) negatively impacted the recall of sought after neutral items. Interestingly, alexithymia had the opposite effect: the “difficulty in identifying emotions” factor of alexithymia was associated with an increased recall of neutral items. We discuss these results in terms of alexithymia and its impact on cognitive control.


Accepted version. Cognition and Emotion, Vol. 28 (May 23, 2014): 442-459. DOI. © 2014 Taylor & Francis (Routledge). Used with permission.

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