We investigated the association between alexithymic tendencies as measured by the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale and the characteristics of aesthetic impressions for words and drawings. Impressions were measured using the semantic differential technique in three groups of Japanese students (High scores n= 31, Moderate scores n = 40, and a Control group n= 182) who were presented only words (Word condition), only drawings (Drawing condition), or pairs comprising one word plus one drawing that represented the same emotional categories (Drawing/Word condition). In a factor analysis on the data from participants, three factors (Evaluation, Activity, and Potency) were extracted. Based on the factor scores, the distances among the three conditions were calculated for each of the groups. For Potency, significant group differences were found between the Drawing/Word and other conditions. In the High-scoring alexithymia group, in particular, the Potency impressions based on tactile sensation, e.g., soft-hard, blunt-sharp, were amplified regardless of stimulus condition. These results are discussed in the context of somatosensory amplification associated with alexithymia and the difficulty of distinguishing between emotion and somatic sensations.
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