Relationships between alexithymia, affect recognition, and empathy after traumatic brain injury

Dawn Neumann, Barbra Zupan, James F. Malec, Flora Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To determine (1) alexithymia, affect recognition, and empathy differences in participants with and without traumatic brain injury (TBI); (2) the amount of affect recognition variance explained by alexithymia; and (3) the amount of empathy variance explained by alexithymia and affect recognition. PARTICIPANTS: Sixty adults with moderate-to-severe TBI; 60 age and gender-matched controls. PROCEDURES: Participants were evaluated for alexithymia (difficulty identifying feelings, difficulty describing feelings, and externally-oriented thinking); facial and vocal affect recognition; and affective and cognitive empathy (empathic concern and perspective-taking, respectively). RESULTS: Participants with TBI had significantly higher alexithymia; poorer facial and vocal affect recognition; and lower empathy scores. For TBI participants, facial and vocal affect recognition variances were significantly explained by alexithymia (12% and 8%, respectively); however, the majority of the variances were accounted for by externally-oriented thinking alone. Affect recognition and alexithymia significantly accounted for 16.5% of cognitive empathy. Again, the majority of the variance was primarily explained by externally-oriented thinking. Affect recognition and alexithymia did not explain affective empathy. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that people who have a tendency to avoid thinking about emotions (externally-oriented thinking) are more likely to have problems recognizing others emotions and assuming others points of view. Clinical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

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Affective Symptoms
Emotions
Traumatic Brain Injury
Recognition (Psychology)
Thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Cite this

Relationships between alexithymia, affect recognition, and empathy after traumatic brain injury. / Neumann, Dawn; Zupan, Barbra; Malec, James F.; Hammond, Flora.

In: Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, Vol. 29, No. 1, 01.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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