Author Identifiers

David A. Preece
ORCID: 0000-0003-1060-2024


Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Dr Ken Robinson

Second Advisor

Dr Rodrigo Becerra

Third Advisor

Associate Professor Justine Dandy

Fourth Advisor

Professor Alfred Allan

Field of Research Code

170106, 170109, 170110

Abstract

Many psychopathologies are characterised by abnormalities in emotional functioning, so clinicians and researchers need to assess emotional functioning to inform case conceptualisations and treatments, and to develop theoretical understanding of the mechanisms behind these psychopathologies. A comprehensive profile of emotional functioning requires information about at least three constructs, emotional reactivity, alexithymia, and emotion regulation, as each has been independently identified as an important transdiagnostic risk factor. Clinicians’ and researchers’ ability to assess these three constructs is, however, currently hampered by a lack of conceptual or definitional clarity, and consequently a lack of comprehensive or accurate psychometric measures. My research project was therefore one of both construct validation and measurement validation, with two interrelated aims: first, to establish compatible and empirically supported definitions of emotional reactivity, alexithymia, and emotion regulation; second, to develop and validate a set of new, comprehensive self-report measures based on these definitions, called the Perth series of measures. I use Gross’s (2015a) extended process model of emotion regulation as an integrating conceptual framework, to delineate definitions of emotional reactivity, alexithymia, and emotion regulation that are compatible with each other and consistent with existing empirical data. I then present six papers that report on factor analytic studies I conducted to test this framework’s parameters and evaluate existing measures or the new Perth measures. I propose in these papers that emotional reactivity, alexithymia, and emotion regulation are conceptually separable but linked constructs, because they correspond to different stages in the emotion generation and emotion valuation sequences described by Gross. My studies’ results indicate that the new Perth measures are structurally consistent with this framework, and appear to be comprehensive and valid measures of emotional reactivity (Perth Emotional Reactivity Scale), alexithymia (Perth Alexithymia Questionnaire), and emotion regulation ability (Perth Emotion Regulation Competency Inventory). This thesis therefore helps to delineate the theoretical structure of emotional reactivity, alexithymia, and emotion regulation, and provides clinicians and researchers with a set of psychometric tools that can operationalise these three constructs in greater detail than was previously possible.

Access Note

Access to chapters 4-9 and appendices B-E of this thesis - is restricted by author's request.

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