Empathy, Alexithymia, and Psychological Mindedness: the Latent Profile Analysis
The current study investigates the association between empathy, alexithymia, and psychological mindedness within the group of university students. The sample included 228 female Russian elementary education department students who completed a Russian-language adaptations of Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) for empathy measure, Toronto Alexithymia Test (TAS-20) and Psychological Mindedness Scale. The Latent Profile Analysis method identified three kinds of profiles, i.e., latent groups of participants, that are similar to each other and differ from another groups in terms of assessed indicators of empathy, alexithymia and psychological mindedness. The obtained profiles can be characterized asdemonstrating “successful” (one profile, 97 persons) and “problematic” development of empathy (twoprofiles, 56 and 75 persons). The profile of “successful” development is characterized by high empathy, high psychological mindedness and low alexithymia. “Problematic” profiles differ from “successful”profile in high alexithymia and moderate or low empathy. Alexithymic persons from two “problematic”profiles groups differ among themselves in the interest in the meaning and motivation (subscale of Psychological mindedness Scale). A profile with higher scores on this scale shows higher empathy despite the higher level of alexithymia. A profile with low score of Interest in Meaning and Motivation shows lower empathy, including personal distress. The problem of factors that can mediate the influence of alexithymia as an intrapersonal emotional competence deficit on the development of empathy is discussed. Also, the identified profiles are discussed in terms of the prospects for the prevention of professional burnout and professional selection.