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Differential effects of alexithymia subscales on autonomic reactivity and anxiety during social stress

  • Objectives: Alexithymia is characterized by a difficulty in identifying and describing one's emotions. Recent research has associated differential effects of the alexithymia facets to hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis markers during stress. This study aimed to analyze how the facets of alexithymia interact with autonomic reactivity as well as self- and observer-rated anxiety during a social stress task. Methods: With the use of a public-speaking paradigm, skin conductance levels (SCLs) and heart rate (HR) during the defined periods of baseline, preparation, stress, and recovery were assessed in 60 volunteers (42 females, mean age 22.8) categorized as having either high (HDA) or low (LDA) degrees of alexithymia. Results: We found smaller SCLs during preparation and speech in the HDA group. Regression analyses indicated that only the alexithymia facet "difficulty in describing feelings" (DDF) was associated with smaller electrodermal responses. In the HDA group, self- and observer-rated anxiety was higher in the HDA than in theObjectives: Alexithymia is characterized by a difficulty in identifying and describing one's emotions. Recent research has associated differential effects of the alexithymia facets to hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis markers during stress. This study aimed to analyze how the facets of alexithymia interact with autonomic reactivity as well as self- and observer-rated anxiety during a social stress task. Methods: With the use of a public-speaking paradigm, skin conductance levels (SCLs) and heart rate (HR) during the defined periods of baseline, preparation, stress, and recovery were assessed in 60 volunteers (42 females, mean age 22.8) categorized as having either high (HDA) or low (LDA) degrees of alexithymia. Results: We found smaller SCLs during preparation and speech in the HDA group. Regression analyses indicated that only the alexithymia facet "difficulty in describing feelings" (DDF) was associated with smaller electrodermal responses. In the HDA group, self- and observer-rated anxiety was higher in the HDA than in the LDA group, which was attributable to higher scores in the subscales "difficulty in identifying feelings" (DIF) and "externally oriented thinking" (EOT). Conclusions: Our data support and specify the decoupling hypothesis of alexithymia by showing that the facets of alexithymia are differentially related to autonomic reactivity as well as self- and observer-rated anxiety during social stress.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Olga Pollatos, Natalie S. Werner, Stefan Duschek, Rainer Schandry, Ellen Matthias, Eva Traut-Mattausch, Beate M. Herbert
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.12.003
ISSN:0022-3999 (print)
Parent Title (English):Journal of psychosomatic research
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publication:Oxford
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2011
Year of Completion:2011
Release Date:2017/03/26
Tag:Alexithymia; Anxiety; Autonomic response; Decoupling hypothesis; Skin conductance; Social performance; Social stress
Volume:70
Issue:6
Pagenumber:9
First Page:525
Last Page:533
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Psychologie
Peer Review:Referiert