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Attachment, alexithymia, gender, and emotional disclosure : an interactional investigation O'Loughlin, Julia Iman

Abstract

Emotional disclosure—verbal communication of emotional experiences—reduces emotional distress and positively impacts interpersonal relationships. Consequently, concealing emotions has been shown to negatively impact physical and psychological health. Previous research has shown that people with attachment avoidance orientation, and people with alexithymia, limit their use of emotional disclosure as a means of affect regulation. Little research however, has been conducted to determine if alexithymia mediates the negative relation between attachment avoidance and emotional disclosure. Additionally, there is little research evaluating the moderating effect of gender on the relation between attachment avoidance and alexithymia. Presently, we investigated if alexithymia mediated the negative relation between attachment avoidance and emotional disclosure. Secondarily, we evaluated whether gender moderated the positive relation between attachment avoidance and alexithymia. Participants were Mechanical Turk workers (N = 178) who completed measures of attachment orientation, alexithymia, and generalized emotional disclosure tendencies. Our primary hypothesis was supported: alexithymia partially mediated the relation between attachment avoidance and emotional disclosure. Our secondary hypothesis was also supported: gender moderated the relation between attachment avoidance and alexithymia in that the relation was stronger for male participants compared to female participants. Implications for theory and counselling psychology practice will be discussed.

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