Delusions, cognitive performance, emotion
Previous research has suggested that there are multiple psychological processes underlying delusional thought. While it appears that cognitive biases in certain reasoning and attention processes are related to delusion-proneness, the influence of emotion on these processes is not well understood. The overall objective of this study was to investigate the effect of emotional content on performance on tasks thought to measure attentional bias, preferential recall, and probabilistic reasoning in individuals with schizophrenia and demographically matched controls. In order to account for level of delusion-proneness, participants also completed a multidimensional measure of delusional thought. It was hypothesized that individuals with schizophrenia would perform more poorly on both the emotional and neutral versions of these tasks compared to controls. It was also hypothesized that within each group, there would be a statistically significant emotion effect, indicated by a difference in performance on the emotional (compared to neutral) condition of each task. This emotion effect was expected to be larger in the schizophrenia group. Finally, it was hypothesized that the emotion effect would increase as the severity of delusional proneness increased for all participants, regardless of group. As hypothesized, the schizophrenia group performed more poorly on the tasks overall, though expected emotion effects were generally absent. There were no differences in the size of emotion effects between the groups on any of the cognitive tasks administered, and the emotion effect did not appear to increase as severity of delusion-proneness increased. Factors that may have contributed to this pattern of results are discussed. Implications of these findings on theoretical models of delusions and future directions for research in this area are also discussed.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Orem, Diana, "The Influence Of Emotional Stimuli On Cognitive Performance In Relation To Delusion Intensity In Schizophrenia" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3955.