Identifier

etd-03312010-120227

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Deficits in social cognition are repeatedly found in individuals with schizophrenia. Facial emotion recognition is a major aspect of social cognition in which individuals with schizophrenia show consistent deficits. However, many questions about these deficits remain unanswered including whether they occur in individuals with schizotypy—those at high risk for the disorder that do not manifest full pathology. Examining emotion recognition in schizotypy eliminates many of the confounds associated with schizophrenia research such as medication effects, chronic institutionalization, and generalized cognitive deficits, and allows for the examination of whether emotion recognition deficits reflect vulnerability to schizophrenia. Prior research in this population has yielded mixed findings and is subject to a number of limitations including measurement of only a subset of schizotypy symptoms and use of non-validated or less sensitive emotion recognition measures. The current study examined emotion recognition in control and psychometrically-identified schizotypic individuals, employing a well-validated emotion recognition task that allowed for the examination of accuracy and bias scores. Of interest was whether individuals with schizotypy would show deficits when labeling emotional faces, whether they would exhibit biases when rating the emotional valence of faces, and how these variables relate to neurocognitive abilities, symptoms, and quality of life. Results indicate that individuals with schizotypy were significantly less accurate than controls when labeling facial emotions; however, they did not show generalized impairment on neurocognitive measures. Within the schizotypy sample, both disorganization symptoms and lower quality of life were associated with a bias toward perceiving facial expressions as more negative. Results support prior studies suggesting that poor emotion recognition is associated with vulnerability to psychosis even in the absence of neurocognitive impairment. Results also offer evidence of social cognitive biases in schizotypy, and suggest that these biases may be more related to overall functioning than accuracy labeling emotions

Date

2010

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Cohen, Alex S.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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