Correlates of psychological inflexibility mediate the relation between alexithymic traits and positive emotions


Joana Duarte, José Pinto-Gouveia


There is growing interest in the construct of alexithymia as it has been increasingly associated with a wide range of psychological disorders, in clinical samples and general population. In comparison to studies relating alexithymia and negative affectivity, there has been a scarcity of studies exploring such links with positive emotions. This study aims to explore the association between alexithymia and several discrete positive emotions, and to explore the mediating role of psychological inflexibility-related processes (decentering, experiential avoidance, resistance to feelings of compassion, and self-compassion) in such association.
Method and participants

Using a cross-sectional design, 331 participants were recruited from the general population (Mage=33.31, SD=14.03; 97 male and 234 female). Participants were asked to fill out the Portuguese version of the questionnaires.

Correlational analyses showed that alexithymia was associated with decreased positive emotions. Intraclass correlations suggested that people presenting with alexithymia showed lower positive emotional granularity, particularly regarding high arousal emotions. Alexithymia was also negatively associated with decentering and self-compassion, and positively associated with experiential avoidance and resistance to feelings of compassion. Mediation analyses showed that all variables were significant mediators of the association between alexithymia and positive emotions,

Psychological inflexibility and related constructs may be important targets for therapeutic interventions with individuals with increased alexithymia.

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