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Emotional processing deficits in alexithymia : a theoretical overview and empirical investigation of attentional biases

Emotional processing deficits in alexithymia : a theoretical overview and empirical investigation of attentional biases
Emotional processing deficits in alexithymia : a theoretical overview and empirical investigation of attentional biases

The Literature Review focuses specifically on studies on emotional processing deficits in alexithymia. It is concluded that the precise psychological processes maintaining such deficits remain poorly understood. The adoption of an information processing approach is suggested to add greater conceptual clarity in this area, providing a theoretical framework to guide systematic empirical investigations of cognitive processes in these emotional deficits. It is suggested that alexithymia may be associated with an attentional orientation towards emotional information which, however, fails subsequently to be fully cognitively elaborated (e.g. rational evaluation and semantic appraisal). Difficulties in further in-depth processing of this information may be responsible for problems in the differentiation, articulation, understanding and modulation of ongoing emotional experiences. The Empirical Paper investigates associations between alexithymia and visual attentional biases towards positive and negative emotional words presented at short and long duration exposures. In the long exposure condition the alexithymia group showed significantly more attentional bias towards emotional stimuli than the low alexithymia group. Group differences remained after taking into account the effects of current anxiety of depression. The findings reflect greater sustained attention to emotional information in alexithymia. Methodological considerations are discussed as well as clinical implications and directions for future research.

University of Southampton
Bloomfield, Edward
Bloomfield, Edward

Bloomfield, Edward (2001) Emotional processing deficits in alexithymia : a theoretical overview and empirical investigation of attentional biases. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The Literature Review focuses specifically on studies on emotional processing deficits in alexithymia. It is concluded that the precise psychological processes maintaining such deficits remain poorly understood. The adoption of an information processing approach is suggested to add greater conceptual clarity in this area, providing a theoretical framework to guide systematic empirical investigations of cognitive processes in these emotional deficits. It is suggested that alexithymia may be associated with an attentional orientation towards emotional information which, however, fails subsequently to be fully cognitively elaborated (e.g. rational evaluation and semantic appraisal). Difficulties in further in-depth processing of this information may be responsible for problems in the differentiation, articulation, understanding and modulation of ongoing emotional experiences. The Empirical Paper investigates associations between alexithymia and visual attentional biases towards positive and negative emotional words presented at short and long duration exposures. In the long exposure condition the alexithymia group showed significantly more attentional bias towards emotional stimuli than the low alexithymia group. Group differences remained after taking into account the effects of current anxiety of depression. The findings reflect greater sustained attention to emotional information in alexithymia. Methodological considerations are discussed as well as clinical implications and directions for future research.

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Published date: 2001

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Local EPrints ID: 467143
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/467143
PURE UUID: 84a1d2fe-242f-45f1-8608-46a4a6d5a01c

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Date deposited: 05 Jul 2022 08:13
Last modified: 05 Jul 2022 08:13

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Author: Edward Bloomfield

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