, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 927-935

Difficulty Identifying Feelings, Distress Tolerance and Compulsive Buying: Analyzing the Associations to Inform Therapeutic Strategies

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Abstract

Difficulty identifying feelings (a component of alexithymia) and distress tolerance both appear to play a role in impulse-control problems. The goal of the present study was to build upon past research by developing a model of the relations between these constructs and compulsive buying. Participants from the United States and Canada completed a survey containing well-established measures of demographic variables, difficulty identifying feelings, distress tolerance and compulsive buying. In support of a hypothesized model, the three constructs were significantly related in predicted directions and distress tolerance fully mediated the relationship between difficulty identifying feelings and compulsive buying. These results confirm the relationship between alexithymic tendencies and distress tolerance and extend previous findings concerning the problematic behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, pathological gambling) of people who have difficulty identifying their feelings. They also highlight attributes and skills (e.g., tolerating distress, identifying feelings) which clinicians might beneficially target while working with clients who buy compulsively.