Empathy is the ability to understand and feel the emotional states of other people. It is commonly impaired in individuals with schizophrenia and schizotypy. On the other hand, alexithymia, reduced ability to express for mood, is also generally exhibited in individuals with schizophrenia and schizotypy. However, little is known about the relationship between alexithymia, empathy and schizotypy.
Drs. Yi Wang and Raymond Chan from the Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience (NACN) Laboratory, CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology have conducted a study to explore such a relationship. They administered a set of questionnaires to measure these constructs to 552 college students. Network analysis showed that there was a specific pattern connecting alexithymia with empathy and schizotypy. Negative correlations were found between empathy and physical/social anhedonia, and positive correlations were observed between alexithymia and empathy and social anhedonia.
Taken together, these findings suggest important roles of alexithymia and schizotypy in the relationship with empathy. These findings also illustrate how alexithymia may interact with empathic alterations and negative schizotypy. It is expected that we may develop potentially useful intervention to improve empathy and alexithymia for in clinical and subclinical samples.
This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology and China Scholarship Council.
The paper is now available online from Cognitive Neuropsychiatry Yang, H. X., Shi, H. S., Ni, K., Wang, Y.*, Cheung E. F. C., Chan, R. C. K. (2020). Exploring the links between alexithymia, empathy and schizotypy in college students using network analysis. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 25:4, 245-253, DOI: 10.1080/13546805.2020.1749039
Institute of Psychology