Expression and communication of emotion in schizophrenic patients

Date of Completion

January 1994


Psychology, Psychobiology|Psychology, Behavioral|Psychology, Clinical




Spontaneous facial/gestural expression and communication of emotion were studied in 4 subject groups consisting of 10 schizophrenic patients on clozaril, 10 schizophrenic patients on typical antipsychotics, 11 patients with affective disorders, and 12 non-psychiatric controls via a slide viewing technique (SVT). These subjects (known as senders) were shown emotionally-loaded color slides such as Unusual, Familiar Person Self, Scenic, Unpleasant, and Familiar Person Experimenter while being videotaped by a hidden camera. Videotapes were rated by six groups of 3 raters (known as receivers) blind to the study. Each sender's self report of emotion across all five slide categories was obtained. Communication ability, expressiveness and pleasant rating scores were determined for each sender. Communication ability was measured by the receiver's ability to correctly guess the slide category that each sender was watching (%correct measure) and the sender's emotional feelings (emotion correlation measure). Expressiveness was determined by the amount of meaningful behavior present in the videotape (segmentation measure). Pleasant rating scores were obtained by receivers rating how pleasant to unpleasant the sender felt.^ Each subject group was given the communication of affect receiving ability test (CARAT). The subjects had to judge what each CARAT sender was watching and guess how pleasant to unpleasant they felt. This was a measure of each subject's ability to 'read' the expression and communication of emotions in others.^ Findings suggest that when summing across slides, patient groups differed significantly from controls in their self reports of emotions. The patient groups were reporting more negative emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, and unpleasantness. There were no significant differences between patients and controls self reports on specific slide categories such as familiar, unusual, and unpleasant slides. This suggests that patient groups are attending and appropriately differentiating in self reports across specific slides. Patient groups report feeling more negative emotions. Controls differed significantly from all patient groups in communication ability. Controls were more communicative. However, the clozaril group did not significantly differ from controls in communication ability on the familiar patient slide category. There was no significant difference between controls and patient groups in expressive behavior. However, there was a near significant group x slide interaction. Simple effect analysis showed controls differing in expressiveness on the familiar patient and experimenter slide category. Controls received higher pleasant rating scores than the patient groups. This was a significant difference. Schizophrenics on clozaril were shown to be the lowest in correctly judging the expression and communication of emotion in others on the CARAT, while distributing 52% of the guesses to the unpleasant slide category. Schizophrenic on clozaril showed a tendency to be the least expressive, communicative, and receive the most unfavorable ratings. Results suggest the need for an emotional reeducation program that centers on appropriate ways to recognize, express, and communicate emotions. ^