The relationship between appraisals of auditory verbal hallucinations and real-time affect and social functioning

Schizophr Res. 2022 Dec:250:112-119. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2022.10.015. Epub 2022 Nov 16.


In addition to being a hallmark symptom of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are present in a range of psychiatric disorders as well as among individuals who are otherwise healthy. People who experience AVH are heterogeneous, and research has aimed to better understand what characteristics distinguish, among those who experience AVH, those who experience significant disruption and distress from those who do not. The cognitive model of AVH suggests that appraisals of voices determine the extent to which voices cause distress and social dysfunction. Previous work has relied largely on comparisons of "clinical" and "non-clinical" voice hearers, and few studies have been able to provide insight into the moment-to-moment relationships between appraisals and outcomes. The current study examines longitudinal data provided through ecological momentary assessment and passive sensors of 465 individuals who experience cross-diagnostic AVH. Results demonstrated associations of AVH appraisals to negative affect and social functioning. Above and beyond within-individual averages, when a participant reported increased appraisals of their voices as powerful and difficult to control, they were more likely to feel increased negative affect and reduced feelings of safety. AVH power appraisals were also associated with next-day number and duration of phone calls placed, and AVH controllability appraisals were associated with increased time near speech and reduced next-day time away from primary location. These results suggest that appraisals are state-like characteristics linked with day-to-day and moment-to-moment changes in impactful affective and behavioral outcomes; intervention approaches should aim to address these domains in real-time.

Keywords: Auditory verbal hallucinations; Digital health; Technology.

MeSH terms

  • Hallucinations
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia* / complications
  • Schizophrenia* / diagnosis
  • Social Interaction
  • Speech
  • Voice*