We need implicit measures of alexithymia
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: The Third International Conference on the (Non)Expression of Emotions in Health and Disease. Tilburg, the Netherlands, October, 19–21, 2003
Much psychological research makes use of explicit measures (e.g., questionnaires), where the participants are asked to report about themselves. Such measures at best index various aspects of the person’s conscious self-concept. However, there are also implicit measures that are designed to tap similar constructs in a more indirect way (e.g., the Implicit Association Test and the Thematic Apperception Test). In a number of different areas (e.g. memory, motivation, attitudes), explicit and implicit measures of psychological constructs have been found (a) to show at best very weak intercorrelations, and (b) to correlate with different variables, indicating that they measure different things. Although there is less research on explicit vs. implicit measures of alexithymia, the same kind of dissociation can be seen also in this area. It is argued that self-assessment measures like the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (especially Factors 1 and 2 of the TAS-20) are at best valid measures of people’s meta-emotional self-efficacy, that is, an aspect of their conscious self-concept. Relying on the TAS-20 as the measure of alexithymia is therefore likely to be grossly misleading. It is suggested that more effort should be devoted to the development and testing of various kinds of implicit measures of alexithymia.
The Third International Conference on the (Non)Expression of Emotions in Health and Disease
Tilburg, the Netherlands