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Compr Psychiatry. 1998 Nov-Dec;39(6):377-85.

Sociodemographic correlates of alexithymia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, USA.


The association between alexithymia and sociodemographic variables is not well understood. Previous studies using the current 20-item and previous 26-item versions of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS) have shown inconsistent associations with age, sex, socioeconomic status, and years of education. We tested 380 subjects from the community stratified equally across sex, five age groups, and three socioeconomic classes. In addition to the TAS-20, we also administered the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS), a behavioral measure of the ability to be aware of and represent emotions in words, a core component of alexithymia. The TAS-20 and LEAS were each correlated with age, sex, socioeconomic status (SES), and years of education (P < .01) in the same direction and to approximately the same degree. Alexithymia (or low emotional awareness) is associated with older age, male sex, lower SES, and fewer years of education. The TAS-20 and LEAS are only slightly correlated (r = -.19, n = 380, P < .001), but their correlation is largely accounted for by their shared variance with these demographic variables. The convergence of findings with these two quite different measures and the nature of their overlap support the validity of these associations between alexithymia and sociodemographic variables.

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