Schizophrenia and the generation effect


A common symptom of schizophrenia is distractibility of thought. That is, people with schizophrenia experience difficultly filtering task relevant information from irrelwvant information. It has been suggested that attentional capacity is strongly associated with distractibility of thought and that any inability to concentrate on incoming information interferes with the utilization of complex mental operations, such as renearsal. The present study investigated whether or not distractor items, such as homographic stimuli (e.g., present), heightens the attentional deficit of schizophrenia. The study was based on a memory task that utilized two memory conditions. During acquisition, one condition required the participant to generate primed responses to homographic or nonhomographic stimuli (e.g., PRESENT - G_FT) while the other required the participants to simply read experimenter supplied responses to homographic and nonhomographic stimuli (e.g., NOSE - FACE). These conditions represent the ''generate'' and "read'' conditions of the study. It has been well documented that participants are more likely to remember a response that was generated rather than read. This phenomenon is known as the "Generation Effect". Prior research has not determined whether the generation effect can be obtained with individuals suffering from schizophrenia. To test for this, the present study used a 2(Subject) x 2(Condition) x 2(Word Type) mixed design. The Subject variable (schizophrenic vs control) was the sole between. subjects va·rfable. Both the Condition (generate vs read) and Word Type (homographic vs nonhomographic) were the within-subjects variables. It was found that part'icipants with schizophrenia recalled fewer responses from both the generate and read conditions and that the generate task enhanced performance for the nonpsychiatric control participants but not for the participants with schizophrenia. Also, both participant groups recalled more correct associations to nonhomographic stimuli. Suggestions for future studies include the addition of a comparison group in which the participants are diagnosed with depression and further investigation into stimuli bias among homographic words.


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Thesis Completion





Wang, Alvin Y.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program



Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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