Social Emotional Memory and Negative Symptoms in Individuals with Schizophrenia

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The current study investigated social and nonsocial emotional memory in schizophrenia, the relation of impairments in the recall of positive stimuli to increased negative symptoms, and the mediating role of defeatist performance beliefs. Twenty-three individuals with schizophrenia and twenty-four healthy controls completed clinical symptom interviews, social and nonsocial laboratory emotional memory tasks, and a measure of dysfunctional attitudes. Results indicated that on a social affective learning task, in comparison to controls, the schizophrenia participants were impaired in their ability to exhibit minimal affective learning of positive pairings. Defeatist performance beliefs did not mediate the relation between recall of positive stimuli and experiential negative symptoms. These findings suggest that it is primarily in the social domain that we see deficits in emotional memory in schizophrenia, and that this impairment in the ability to learn positive social associations may be linked to decreased motivation to engage in social, vocational, and recreational activities.