What aspects of emotional functioning are impaired in schizophrenia?

Ellen S. Herbener, Woojin Song, Tin T. Khine, John A. Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Disturbances in emotional functioning are a major cause of persistent functional disability in schizophrenia. However, it is not clear what specific aspects of emotional functioning are impaired. Some studies have indicated diminished experience of positive affect in individuals with schizophrenia, while others have not. The current study assessed emotional responses by 34 individuals with schizophrenia and 35 demographically matched healthy participants to 131 images sampling a wide range of emotional arousal and valence levels. Ratings of affective response elicited by individual images were highly correlated across the groups (r's > .90), indicating similar emotional experiences at the moment of stimulus exposure. However, the data did not indicate strong relationships between ratings of the emotional impact of the images and most measures of day-to-day emotional processing. These results demonstrate that individuals with schizophrenia report "normal" emotional responses to emotional stimuli, and thus suggests that deficits in emotional functioning associated with the disorder are likely to occur further downstream, and involve the effective integration of emotion and cognition for adaptive functioning in areas such as goal-setting, motivation, and memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-246
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Anhedonia
  • Emotional experience
  • Emotional processing
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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