Establishing the theoretical components of alexithymia via factor analysis: Introduction and validation of the attention-appraisal model of alexithymia

David Preece, Rodrigo Becerra, Alfred Allan, Ken Robinson, Justine Dandy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Alexithymia is an important mental health construct, but there is continuing debate regarding its definition and
measurement. We attempt to resolve this definitional uncertainty in two ways. Firstly, we trace the development
of the alexithymia construct, focusing particularly on what we call the Toronto and Amsterdammodels, and examine
a body of empirical research that shows strong support for the hypothesis that alexithymia consists of three
components (difficulty identifying feelings, difficulty describing feelings, and externally orientated thinking).
Based on these components, we formulate an alternate theoretical model of alexithymia, the attention-appraisal
model of alexithymia, that aligns alexithymia theory with recent advances in the broader emotion regulation
field. Secondly, we examine the construct's latent structure by factor analysing data from multiple psychometric
measures administered to a community sample (N = 368). Our results suggest statistical support for our model,
rather than the Toronto or Amsterdam models.We end by discussing how our model accounts for several unresolved
issues within the alexithymia field, including the construct's relation to imaginal capacities and emotional
reactivity, whether alexithymia is a deficit or a defence, how it might be addressed in psychiatric treatment, and
the discordance that has existed between alexithymia theory and alexithymia measurement.
Ethical statement: Ethics approval for this project was granted by the Edith Cowan University Human Research
Ethics Committee. The guidelines of this committee were followed. All participants provided informed consent
for their data to be used.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-352
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume119
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Establishing the theoretical components of alexithymia via factor analysis: Introduction and validation of the attention-appraisal model of alexithymia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this