Title page for ETD etd-03312010-120227

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Brown, Laura
URN etd-03312010-120227
Title Emotion Recognition in Schizotypy
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cohen, Alex S. Committee Chair
Gouvier, William Committee Member
Grobman, Kevin Committee Member
  • social cognition
  • schizophrenia
  • emotion
Date of Defense 2009-11-03
Availability unrestricted
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

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