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Body-focused repetitive behaviours: the influence of alexithymia and impulsivity

Römer, M. (2019) Body-focused repetitive behaviours: the influence of alexithymia and impulsivity.

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Abstract:Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs; e.g., hair pulling, nail biting, skin picking, mouth/cheek/lip biting) can cause significant physical and psychological distress which can lead to more severe engagement in self-harming behaviors. However, data examining BFRBs among non-clinical samples is limited. As BFRBs seem to be connected to impulsivity and alexithymia, the inability to detect one’s own emotions, this study investigates the extent to which the engagement and the urge to engage in BFRBs is associated with both impulsivity and alexithymia in a non-clinical sample (N=106). The study aimed to find an answer to whether there is a moderation effect of alexithymia on the relationship between impulsivity and BFRB. The focus of this study lied on the influence on the urge, and the engagement in BFRBs, thus two models were tested. An interaction effect between impulsivity and alexithymia was assumed, as both seem to influence the engagement in BFRBs positively. The data were gathered through an online survey, including questionnaires regarding alexithymia (TAS-20), impulsivity (BIS-15 (11)) and BFRBs (adapted form of MGH-HS). For both models, one considering only the urge for BFRBs and the other one the actual engagement in BFRB did not show a significant interaction effect. However, there was a significant moderate correlation (r=.42, p<.01) found between impulsivity and alexithymia. Moreover, there were significant mild correlations (r=.29, p<.01; r=.26, p<.01) between impulsivity and the urge and engagement in BFRBs. The results of this study provide insights into what influences the individual’s urge and engagement in BFRB. The findings that the BFRB correlates moderately with impulsivity provide a base for treatment development for BFRBs. Furthermore, as it was found out that alexithymia might not influence these behaviors, further research can concentrate on researching other factors influencing these behaviors. Also, impulsivity and alexithymia seem to be related. By knowing about these relations this study provides a basis for developing treatments for alexithymia as well as BFRBs. This study expands the knowledge, and therefore rises awareness about BFR. Hence, indirect support for individuals engaging in BFRBs is provided.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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