Dysfunctional attitudes and expectancies in deficit syndrome schizophrenia

Schizophr Bull. 2013 Jan;39(1):43-51. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbr040. Epub 2011 May 27.


The deficit syndrome was proposed over 20 years ago as a separate negative symptom syndrome within schizophrenia with a distinct neurobiological pathophysiology and etiology. Recent research, however, has indicated that psychological factors such as negative attitudes and expectancies are significantly associated with the broad spectrum of negative symptoms. Specifically, defeatist beliefs regarding performance mediate between neurocognitive impairment and both negative symptoms and functional outcome. Additionally, asocial beliefs predict asocial behavior and negative expectancies regarding future pleasure are associated with negative symptoms. The present study explored whether these dysfunctional beliefs and negative expectancies might also be a feature of the deficit syndrome. Based on a validated proxy method, 22 deficit and 72 nondeficit patients (from a pool of 139 negative symptom patients) were identified and received a battery of symptom, neurocognitive, and psychological measures. The deficit group scored significantly worse on measures of negative symptoms, insight, emotion recognition, defeatist attitudes, and asocial beliefs but better on measures of depression, anxiety, and distress than the nondeficit group. Moreover, the deficit group showed a trend for higher scores on self-esteem. Based on these findings, we propose a more comprehensive formulation of deficit schizophrenia, characterized by neurobiological factors and a cluster of psychological attributes that lead to withdrawal and protect the self-esteem. Although the patients have apparently opted-out of participation in normal activities, we suggest that a psychological intervention that targets these negative attitudes might improve their functioning and quality of life.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / physiopathology
  • Attitude*
  • Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Syndrome