Previous research has shown alexithymia leading to a deficit in the ability of an individual to build and maintain relationships. Using the tenets of Affection Exchange Theory, the current study hypothesized a mediating role of trait affection in the relationship between alexithymia and both attachment behavior (specifically, anxious/avoidant and the need for intimacy) and an individual's self-reported number of close relationships. Participants (N= 921) filled out self-report measures of all variables, and the hypotheses were tested using a path analysis. Findings largely supported the predictions, with affection partially mediating the relationship between alexithymia and anxious/avoidant attachment and fully mediating the relationship between alexithymia and the need for intimacy and the number of close relationships. One sex interaction was also found, with the relationship between alexithymia and the need for intimacy becoming significantly stronger for women than for men. Implications and directions for future research are explored.
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