Introduction: Many people with schizophrenia report low levels of negative affect (NA), which may reflect biases in emotion processing. In the general population there is an inverse correlation between positive affect (PA) and NA. It is possible that this relationship is different among people with schizophrenia. This study aims to understand the relationship between PA and NA among people with schizophrenia, and explore PA and NA variability in relationship to social context.
Method: 105 participants with schizophrenia answered ecological momentary assessment (EMA) surveys seven times/day for seven days. They reported their experiences of mood states on a scale of one to seven: happiness, sadness, relaxation, and anxiety, as well as their social context (alone vs. with someone). Mood variability was calculated using the mean square of successive difference, and multilevel modeling was used to understand the time-course of reported moods within- and between-person.
Results: 45% of surveys reported the absence of NA, though there was an inverse within-subjects correlation between PA and NA. Between-subjects, there was a large inverse correlation between PA and NA. Greater mood variability was associated with a greater number of social interactions.
Discussion: The results of this study point to both the role of social context in mood variability, and momentary trends in mood experiences, with some individuals reporting no NA, some indicating both PA and NA, and some indicating a more normative affect pattern. Later research should address the possible impact of emotion perception bias and social interactions on moods states in schizophrenia.
Keywords: Affect; Ecological momentary assessment; Emotion processing; Mood variability; Schizophrenia; Social context.
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