April 14, 2020
Category:

Online Alexithymia Questionnaire

Last updated on November 9, 2022

The Online Alexithymia Questionnaire (OAQ-G2) is a self-administered questionnaire to measure difficulty in identifying and describing emotions and feelings, and distinguishing between the accompanying bodily sensations.

Basic information
Statements: 37
Duration: 7–15 minutes
Type: screening tool
Authors: Jason Thompson
Publishing year: 2007
Seminal source: OAQ-G2, Introduction and Factor Targets (Thompson, 2007)

Original OAQ
Publishing year: 2005
Seminal source: OAQ, Introduction and Factor Targets (Thompson, 2005)

Take the test here:


Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht’s rating: 5 stars for appropriate and respectful wording, 5 stars for clarity & lack of ambiguity, and 4 stars for testing accuracy.Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht’s rating: 5 stars for appropriate and respectful wording, 5 stars for clarity & lack of ambiguity, and 4 stars for testing accuracy.


Who the test is designed for

The test was developed to address some of the shortcomings of other alexithymia tests, as well as to offer a free alexithymia test for the community.[1]Alexithymia Questionnaire | Alexithymia.us The test is particularly suited for:

  • Adults with ASD level 1 (previously Asperger syndrome).
  • Adults with normal to high IQ (IQ >=80).

Research indicates that 40–65%[2]The validity of using self-reports to assess emotion regulation abilities in adults with autism spectrum disorder (Berthoz & Hill, 2005)[3]Brief report: cognitive processing of own emotions in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder and in their relatives (Hill et al., 2004) of autistic people have alexithymia—or even as high as 70%.[4]Measuring the effects of alexithymia on perception of emotional vocalizations in autistic spectrum disorder and typical development (Heaton, 2012)


What it measures

The OAQ-G2 measures alexithymia, with the following factors:[5]OAQ-G2, Introduction and Factor Targets (Thompson, 2007)

FactorDescription
F1Difficulty identifying feelings
F2Difficulty describing feelings
F2bVicarious interpretation of feelings
F3Externally-oriented thinking
F4Restricted imaginative processes
F5Problematic interpersonal relationships
F5bSexual difficulties and disinterest

For more information on these factors and the corresponding test items, have a look at the OAQ-G2 factors section below.


Versions & translations

The OAQ was revised in 2007, thus creating a second-generation questionnaire (G2), reflecting its ongoing evolution as independent from other alexithymia questionnaires.[6]OAQ-G2, Introduction and Factor Targets (Thompson, 2007) The OAQ-G2 has been translated into three languages:


Taking the test

The OAQ-G2 consists of 37 statements, giving you 5 choices for each statement:

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Undecided
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

To get significant results, a participant needs to answer no more than a maximum of 17 questions as undecided.

You can take the test auto-scored or self-scoring:


Scoring

Basics

  • Scoring range: 0–185
  • Threshold score: 113↑

Scoring

The scoring of the OAQ-G2 is as follows:

  • Strongly Agree = 5
  • Agree = 4
  • Undecided = 3
  • Disagree = 2
  • Strongly Disagree = 1

With the exception of questions 3, 7, 8, 23, and 32, which are inversely scored:

  • Strongly Agree = 1
  • Agree = 2
  • Undecided = 3
  • Disagree = 4
  • Strongly Disagree = 5

Interpretation

Like the TAS-20, the OAQ-G2 uses cutoff scoring:

ScoreInterpretation
0–94No alexithymia
95–112Possible alexithymia
113–185Alexithymia present

The overall score can offer a good indication of whether you have alexithymia. However, in some cases, you may get a relatively low score despite scoring high in some areas. Fortunately, the test gives more details, but you have to scroll down to the Detailed Results section of the test.


Validity

How reliable, accurate, valid, and up to date is the test?

Though the OAQ-G2 is not clinically validated, it is based on clinically validated instruments. Three problems of other alexithymic questionnaires such as the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and the Bermond–Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire (BVAQ) are addressed:[7]OAQ-G2, Introduction and Factor Targets (Thompson, 2007)

  1. Questions were changed to refer to a problem with ‘spontaneous’ or ‘unconscious’ imagination rather than conscious imagination.
  2. Alexithymic individuals often lack awareness of emotions, so the wording of questions has been changed to accommodate this.
  3. Access to alexithymia questionnaires was limited, so the OAQ had to be a free testing instrument for the general public.

Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht pointing to the title ‘Discussion’.

Discussion

Natalie:

I found the OAQ-G2 relatively easy to take.

Alexithymics’ emotional blindness does not necessarily allow them to be aware of what they are feeling. With that in mind, I took the test and assessed the statements carefully—knowing that I am not always effective at knowing what I am feeling. If a person does not have a good awareness of their inner mental and emotional world, it can skew the results. My own score of 83 means that I have very few alexithymic traits, and based on the threshold I have no alexithymia.

However, the breakdown reveals I can actually have high alexithymic traits for identifying feelings, which indeed I do. A tremendous challenge I’ve found in my personal therapy is how to answer the question: How does that make you feel? Another category that shows fairly high alexithymia for me is vicarious interpretation of feelings.

So despite my overall score saying I have almost no alexithymia, it is important to look at the breakdown to get a better understanding as to whether you do in fact have alexithymia in particular areas. This information can be very useful when it comes to self-insight and addressing potential issues or areas where you can grow.

The first time I took this test, I missed seeing the Detailed Results, as there is no indication that there are more results than your overall score.

 

Natalie’s alexithymia subscale scores, which show she has alexithymia.

Kendall:

The Online Alexithymia Questionnaire is quick, easy to understand, yet informative and helpful. With the choices graphically illustrated under each statement, it is not necessary to continually scroll to the top and refresh the choices. With each answer highlighted, it is simple to see where a statement has been skipped or missed. All are easily understood and voiced in such a way that I never answered undecided. The scoring has a breakout of 7 categories and the points for each, which makes it clear what areas you are likely to experience challenges.


Embrace Autism | Online Alexithymia Questionnaire | icon Test

OAQ-G2 factors

The items of the questionnaire can be divided into the following categories:[8]OAQ-G2, Introduction and Factor Targets (Thompson, 2007)

FactorItems
Difficulty identifying feelingsWhen asked which emotion I’m feeling, I frequently don’t know the answer.

I have puzzling physical sensations that even friends/acquaintances/others don’t understand.

When I am upset I find it difficult to identify the feelings causing it.

I sometimes experience confusing sensations in my body.

I can’t identify feelings that I vaguely sense are going on inside of me.

When involved in difficult or turbulent relationships, I sometimes develop confusing physical symptoms.
Difficulty describing feelingsI’m unsure of which words to use when describing my feelings.

I can describe my emotions with ease.

Describing the feelings I have about other people is often difficult.

I get in a muddle when I try to describe how I feel about an important event.
Vicarious interpretation of feelingsI often ask other people what they would feel if in my personal situation (any situation), as this better helps me understand what to do.

I tend to rely on other people to interpret the emotional details of personal/social events.

I like it when someone describes the feelings they experience under circumstances similar to my own, because this helps me see what my own feelings might be.
Externally-oriented thinkingI prefer to find out the emotional intricacies of my problems rather than just describe them in terms of practical facts.

You cannot functionally live your life without being aware of your deepest emotions.

I prefer doing physical activities with friends rather than discussing each others’ emotional experiences.

When helping others I prefer to assist with physical tasks rather than offering counsel about their feelings.

I find it useful to ponder on my feelings as much as the practical issues when setting my priorities.

I don’t like conversations in which more time is spent discussing emotional matters than daily activities because it detracts from my enjoyment.

I make decisions based on principles rather than gut feelings.
Restricted imaginative processesWhen other people are hurt or upset, I have difficulty imagining what they are feeling.

People sometimes get upset with me, and I can’t imagine why.

I am not much of a daydreamer.

I don’t dream frequently, and when I do the dreams usually seem rather boring.

I use my imagination mainly for practical means (e.g. how to work out a problem or construct a useful idea or object).

My imagination is usually not spontaneous and surprising, but rather used/employed in a more controlled fashion.

My imagination is often spontaneous, unpredictable, and involuntary.
Problematic interpersonal relationshipsPeople tell me to describe my feelings more, as if I haven’t elaborated enough.

People tell me I don’t listen to their feelings properly, when in fact, I’m doing my utmost to understand what they saying!

I don’t like people’s constant assumptions that I should understand or guess their needs… it’s as if they want me to read their minds!

Friends have indicated, in one way or another, that I’m more in my head than in my heart.

Some people have told me I am cold or unresponsive to their needs.

People I’ve been in close relationships with have complained that I neglect them emotionally.
Sexual difficulties and disinterestSex as a recreational activity seems pointless.

I often get confused about what the other person wants from a sexual relationship.

I often feel incompetent, awkward, uncomfortable, or occasionally physically sick in sexual situations.

For me, sex is more a functional activity than it is an emotional one.

Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht pointing at a psychometric test.

Online Alexithymia Questionnaire

Select the answer that best reflects the extent to which you agree or disagree with each statement.

1. When asked which emotion I'm feeling, I frequently don't know the answer.
2. I'm unsure of which words to use when describing my feelings.
3. I prefer to find out the emotional intricacies of my problems rather than just describe them in terms of practical facts.
4. When other people are hurt or upset, I have difficulty imagining what they are feeling.
5. People tell me to describe my feelings more, as if I haven't elaborated enough.
6. Sex as a recreational activity seems kinda pointless.
7. I can describe my emotions with ease.
8. You cannot functionally live your life without being aware of your deepest emotions.
9. People sometimes get upset with me, and I can't imagine why.
10. People tell me I don't listen to their feelings properly, when in fact I'm doing my utmost to understand what they're saying!
11. When I am upset I find it difficult to identify the feelings causing it.
12. Describing the feelings I have about other people is often difficult.
13. I prefer doing physical activities with friends rather than discussing each others’ emotional experiences.
14. I am not much of a daydreamer.
15. I don't like people's constant assumptions that I should understand or guess their needs... it's as if they want me to read their minds!
16. I sometimes experience confusing sensations in my body.
17. For me sex is more a functional activity than it is an emotional one.
18. Some people have told me I am cold or unresponsive to their needs.
19. I don't dream frequently, and when I do the dreams usually seem rather boring.
20. Friends have indicated, in one way or another, that I'm more in my head than in my heart.
21. I can't identify feelings that I vaguely sense are going on inside of me.
22. I often ask other people what they would feel if in my personal situation (any situation), as this better helps me understand what to do.
23. I find it useful to ponder on my feelings as much as the practical issues when setting my priorities.
24. I use my imagination mainly for practical means, eg., like how to work out a problem or construct a useful idea or object.
25. I often feel incompetent, awkward, uncomfortable, or occasionally physically sick in sexual situations.
26. When involved in difficult or turbulent relationships, I sometimes develop confusing physical symptoms.
27. I tend to rely on other people for interpreting the emotional details of personal/social events.
28. I don’t like conversations in which more time is spent discussing emotional matters than daily activities because it detracts from my enjoyment.
29. I often get confused about what the other person wants from a sexual relationship.
30. People I've been in close relationships with have complained that I neglect them emotionally.
31. I like it when someone describes the feelings they experience under circumstances similar to my own, because this helps me see what my own feelings might be.
32. My imagination is often spontaneous, unpredictable and involuntary.
33. When helping others I prefer to assist with physical tasks rather than offering counsel about their feelings.
34. I have puzzling physical sensations that even friends/aquaintances/others don't understand.
35. I get in a muddle when I try to describe how I feel about an important event.
36. My imagination is usually not spontaneous and surprising, but rather used/employed in a more controlled fashion.
37. I make decisions based on principles rather than gut feelings.


Recommended next steps

After the OAQ-G2, consider taking one of the tests below.

Toronto Alexithymia Scale

Measures difficulty in identifying
and describing emotions and feelings

Toronto Empathy Questionnaire

Measures your emotional ability to
understand and respond to others

CAT-Q

Measures camouflaging, and may account
for lower scores on other autism tests

Online autism tests can play an essential role in the process of self-discovery, and may inform your decision to pursue a formal diagnosis. For a formal assessment, please see a knowledgeable medical professional trained in assessing autism.


An illustration of a clipboard with a checklist or assessment.

If you are looking for an autism assessment,
Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht can offer help!
You can find more information here:

Online autism assessments

References

This article
was written by:
dr-natalie-engelbrecht
Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht ND RP is a dually licensed naturopathic doctor and registered psychotherapist, and a Canadian leader in trauma, PTSD, and integrative medicine strictly informed by scientific research. And not only do I happen to be autistic, but my autism plays a significant role in who I am as a doctor and how I interact with and care for my patients and clients.

Disclaimer

Although our content is generally well-researched
and substantiated, or based on personal experience,
note that it does not constitute medical advice.

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