Monday, September 22, 2008

Negative and positive affect and schizophrenia

Recent research on personality traits has tended to coalesce around the idea that there are three main variables - at least in part influenced by biology - in people's personality. Negative affect (NA) reflects individual differences in the extent to which a person views the world as threatening, problematic and distressing. People with high NA experience elevated levels of negative emotions and report a broad array of psychological and physical problems whereas people with low NA are calm, emotionally stable and satisfied with themselves and their lives. Positive affect (PA) involves an individual's willingness to engage with their environment. People with a high PA approach life actively, with energy and enthusiasm, cheerfulness and confidence and seek out and enjoy the company of others. In contrast those low on PA tend to be reserved and socially aloof and have lower levels of energy and confidence. The third variable is inhibition/disinhibition - individual differences in the tendency to behave in a controlled or uncontrolled manner. Researchers in the U.S. reviewed studies into NA and PA in people with schizophrenia. They found that people with schizophrenia reported a pattern of stably elevated NA and low PA throughout the course of their illness. The traits were found to be associated with variability in functional outcome, quality of life and stress reactivity.

Horan, William P. ... [et al] - Affective traits in schizophrenia and schizotypy Schizophrenia Bulletin September 2008, 34(5), 856-874

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