Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Importantly, elevations in emotional reactivity to stress are often found in individuals vulnerable for psychosis. This study investigated several meaningful factors that appear to either increase vulnerability to stress (degree of schizotypy traits, trait negative affect, low perceived control, and impaired selective attention), or increase resiliency to stress (trait positive affect). A modified Posner spatial-cueing task utilizing affective cues was employed to assess selective attention within a neutral and an uncontrollable stressor condition. Between group differences (high, medium and low in schizotypy traits) and interactions between affective traits, state affect, and perceived control were evaluated in order to shed light on how specific dispositional vulnerabilities increase risk for future psychosis. Findings suggest that individuals high in schizotypy traits overall displayed greater attention vigilance than the other two groups. Importantly, this heightened attention vigilance appeared to be influenced by increased stress (presumably mediated by their increase in negative affect and low perceived control) and threatening negative affective cues. Thus, while the high trait schizotypy group displayed “better” attention performance than those medium and low in schizotypy traits, it is important to consider the consequences (e.g., attentional vigilance appears to come at the cost of narrowing attentional focus) and the underlying mechanisms (e.g., activation of the stress response systems) that may have contributed to this performance enhancement.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Cohen, Alex S

Included in

Psychology Commons