The relation between alexithymia and the vividness of memories during the recall of sad memories

Golena, N. (2014) The relation between alexithymia and the vividness of memories during the recall of sad memories.

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Abstract:Introduction: Numerous studies have shown that the mere talking about negative experiences has positive effects on physical and mental health. In this context, it is shown that the verbal expression of emotional words plays an important role in order to benefit from the health effects of telling narratives. However, people with a high degree of alexithymia have an impaired ability to express emotional experiences verbally. Thus, people with a high degree of alexithymia would have difficulties to benefit from the health effects of talking about negative experiences. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relation between the degree of alexithymia and the verbal emotional expression during the recall of sad memories. Therefore, the use of negative emotional words and the vividness of sad memories are considered. Method: Participants are 35 Dutch students between 18 and 39 years. The participants were asked to recall four categories of memories: sad, angry, happy and neutral memories. The data were recorded with a camera and a voice recorder. In addition, the data were transcribed and then analyzed with the Linguistic inquiry and word count (LIWC). Furthermore, the participants filled in their demographic data and the 20-Item Toronto alexithymia scale (TAS-20). The TAS-20 measures the degree of alexithymia. For the analyses, descriptive, correlation analyses, the Wilcoxon-test and Univariate ANOVA repeated measures were executed. Results: The findings indicate no difference between both sad memories. Differences were found between the numbers of negative words in sad memories and neutral memories. No significant correlations could be found between the degree of alexithymia, the number of negative emotional words and the vividness of sad memories. Discussion: Differences in study findings can be possibly explained through a difference in procedure, sample characteristics and investigated variables. With respect to the findings that no statistically significant relations were found between the degree of alexithymia and the vividness of sad memories, an explanation can be found in the intensity of memories. It is shown that the intensity determines the vividness of the memory. Moreover, no statistically significant relation could be found between the degree of alexithymia and the number of negative emotional words in sad memories. A possible explanation can be found in the difference of procedures between the current study and other studies. Recommendations for further studies include the investigations of intensity in place of vividness. Furthermore, the people who transcribed the data should speak the same native language such the participants. In addition, a sample with participants with a higher degree of alexithymia should be used in order to get more significant results. Moreover, the non-verbal aspect of emotional expression related to the degree of alexithymia should be considered in further studies. For the practice of psychotherapy, further research should investigate how the promotion of emotional word use can foster the ability of emotional processing for people with a high degree of alexithymia.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/65730
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