Affectionate experience mediates the effects of alexithymia on mental health and interpersonal relationships
Affection has long been found to be a foundational force in any sort of human relationship, influencing such areas as relational closeness, stress, and depression. One psychological condition that may influence the communication of affection is alexithymia, which hinders the ability of an individual both to experience and to express emotion. On the basis of affection exchange theory, we hypothesized a mediating effect of affectionate communication on the association between alexithymia and relational and mental health indices. Participants (N = 347) provided self-reports of alexithymia, affectionate communication, depression, stress, relational closeness, nonverbal immediacy, happiness, and relational affection. Findings implicated affectionate communication as a mediator of the relationships between alexithymia and several of the outcome measures.