The impact of alexithymia on initial interactions

Authors

  • COLIN HESSE,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Missouri–Columbia
      Colin Hesse, Department of Communication Studies, University of Missouri–Columbia, 115 Switzler Hall, Columbia, MO 65211-2310, e-mail: hessecr@missouri.edu.
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Colin Hesse, Department of Communication Studies, University of Missouri–Columbia; Kory Floyd, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University.

  • KORY FLOYD

    1. Arizona State University
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Colin Hesse, Department of Communication Studies, University of Missouri–Columbia; Kory Floyd, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University.


  • This study was funded through the Graduate and Professional Student Association at Arizona State University. The authors would like to thank Dr. Laura Guerrero and Dr. Alex Zautra for their invaluable assistance in the preparation of this study.

Colin Hesse, Department of Communication Studies, University of Missouri–Columbia, 115 Switzler Hall, Columbia, MO 65211-2310, e-mail: hessecr@missouri.edu.

Abstract

This study proposed several hypotheses predicting a deficit in the ability of alexithymic individuals to present themselves as attractive to a relational partner during an initial interaction. Both alexithymic and nonalexithymic individuals participated in a 10-min interpersonal exercise with a stranger of the opposite gender. Relational partners were more attracted to nonalexithymics than alexithymics. Partners perceived higher levels of several relational messages from nonalexithymics than alexithymics and lower levels of formality and dominance. Finally, the relational message of intimacy fully mediated the relationship between group membership (alexithymic or nonalexithymic) and social attraction. The authors suggest several implications and directions for future research, such as the need to include psychological traits in theoretical examinations of communication competence.

Ancillary