Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Winter 2022

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Experimental Psychology

Committee Chair

Meaghan Nolte

Second Committee Member

Anthony Stahelski

Third Committee Member

Mary Radeke


As much as 58% of the United States population operate with an insecure attachment style acquired in infancy during socio-emotional development, resulting in adverse internal working models outside of conscious awareness that negatively affect later relationships. Additionally, the surgeon general elevated loneliness to epidemic status, citing evidence that up to 61% of Americans experience such loneliness. Attachment insecurity and loneliness are associated with countless physical, mental, socio-emotional, and psychological issues that negatively affect well-being. Without an early environment that promotes the awareness of and language to describe emotions, alexithymia­­­—difficulty identifying and communicating one's feelings and needs­­­­—may emerge. Without emotional awareness or the ability to express feelings and needs, emotional intimacy is difficult, and a person is prone to emotional loneliness. Furthermore, emotional loneliness has been repeatedly linked to attachment insecurity. This study examined the relationship between these variables hypothesizing that high alexithymia scores would positively correlate with emotional loneliness and attachment insecurity; that high alexithymia scores with high attachment insecurity would positively correlate with emotional loneliness, and that chronic emotional loneliness would positively correlate with attachment insecurity. The current study found statistically significant correlations between each of the variables and that alexithymia accounted for 66% of the variance of emotional loneliness and attachment insecurity. Results suggest that increasing emotional self-awareness and expression, to counteract alexithymia, could positively influence a person’s ability to create the emotional intimacy needed to overcome emotional loneliness and to form more attachment security in adulthood.

Available for download on Tuesday, March 30, 2027

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