Alexithymia and automatic processing of verbal and facial affect stimuli

Thomas Suslow*, Klaus Junghanns, Uta Susan Donges, Volker Arolt

*Corresponding author for this work
25 Citations (Scopus)


Research on the automatic processing of affect in alexithymia is of great importance since faults in affect recognition at a controlled processing level may be due to impaired automatic processes. In this study, automatic processing of verbal and non-verbal valence information was examined as a function of alexithymia. The 20-Item Toronto-Alexithymia Scale (TAS) and the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS) were evaluated in 68 subjects (30 psychiatric inpatients and 38 normal subjects) along with two sequential priming tasks that controlled for several task relevant variables. For word evaluation, high (TAS-) alexithymics showed a prime valence - target valence interaction, whereas low alexithymics exhibited a main effect prime valence. For face evaluation, no group differences were observed. The LEAS Self-score was found to predict affective priming for both priming tasks significantly. It can be concluded that high alexithymics automatically assess the valence of verbal stimuli. However, high alexithymics seem to manifest a reduced processing engagement towards negative verbal stimuli at an automatic processing level.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCahiers de Psychologie Cognitive
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)297-324
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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