Psychology ETDs

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Alexithymia, a construct of impaired emotion processing, has been shown to negatively impact mental health and is associated with higher physical symptom reporting. This study examined the relationship between alexithymia, coping, and health in a large ethnically diverse sample of undergraduate university students (N = 605; 65% female; 45% Hispanic). Exploratory factor analyses were conducted to create a latent measurement model for emotional approach, active coping and avoidant coping. Structural equation modeling was used to test a hypothesized structural model for coping mediating the effects of alexithymia on mental and physical health. Results indicated the association between alexithymia and negative emotion was mediated by avoidant coping. The relationship between alexithymia and physical symptoms was mediated by avoidant coping. Further, the association between alexithymia and positive emotion was mediated through the relationships between emotional approach and active coping. Women reported higher emotional approach coping, negative emotion, physical symptoms, and lower positive emotion than men. Non-Hispanic reported higher alexithymia and Hispanic reported higher positive emotion. The current study contributes to further understanding of the pathways from alexithymia and health by identifying coping mediators. Further, the differences in alexithymia, coping and outcomes for women and Non-Hispanic raises questions about treatment approaches and increasing coping skills for alexithymia within these populations.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

McCrady, Barbara

Second Committee Member

Tassey, John

Third Committee Member

Cureton, Anjanette

Fourth Committee Member

Matthews, Daniel

Fifth Committee Member

Venner, Kamilla; Smith, Bruce




Alexithymia, Coping, Mediation, mental health, physical symptoms

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