Academic journal article East Asian Archives of Psychiatry

Self-Reported Pleasure Experience and Motivation in Individuals with Schizotypal Personality Disorders Proneness

Academic journal article East Asian Archives of Psychiatry

Self-Reported Pleasure Experience and Motivation in Individuals with Schizotypal Personality Disorders Proneness

Article excerpt


Objectives: In our current research, 2 studies were conducted to investigate self-reported pleasure and approach motivation in individuals with schizotypal personality disorders (SPD) proneness.

Methods: In Study 1, 20 individuals with SPD proneness and 20 non-SPD-prone persons were included in the investigation. In Study 2, 24 SPD-prone and 24 non-SPD-prone individuals took part in our research. In all these individuals, memory and perceptual probabilistic reward tasks, and self-report scales were administered to capture their approach motivation and pleasure experience, respectively.

Results: In both of the 2 studies, individuals with SPD proneness demonstrated more problems with self-reported deficits in pleasure experience than those without SPD proneness. However, there was no difference in approach motivation performance between the groups in Study 1; in Study 2, those with higher levels of anhedonia demonstrated a tendency to even more motivated behaviour.

Conclusions: Approach motivation might be intact in schizotypal-proneness persons, although they had more complaints about their hedonic capacity.

Key words: Motivation; Pleasure; Schizotypal personality disorder


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Schizophrenia is associated with a wide range of emotional and interpersonal impairments, including anhedonia and malfunction in approach motivation.1 Anhedonia is defined as the inability to experience pleasure, whereas approach motivation is defined as the motivation in which the behaviour is driven by positive or desirable events or the possibility of these events happening.2,3 Recent studies suggested that patients with schizophrenia have a deficit in self-reported pleasure experience4-7 and approach motivation.8,9

Recent studies also showed that people with a 'milder' non-psychotic forms of the schizophrenia spectrum, such as schizotypal personality disorder (SPD),10,11 share common phenomenological,12 genetic,1,13 and cognitive14 characteristics with patients with schizophrenia. Schizotypal personality disorder is characterised by a need for social isolation, odd behaviour and thinking, and often unconventional belief. The schizotypal personality questionnaire (SPQ) was developed specifically to assess SPD based on the criteria of DSM-III-TR and has high clinical validity and reliability in the general population.15 Inconsistent results were found in the studies of pleasure experiences of SPD. Some studies16-18 reported problems with positive affect among samples with SPD characteristics, while others did not.19 Although most of the existing studies on schizophrenia patients have found an approach motivation deficit,8,9 the number of studies on this issue is still quite limited.20 Therefore, it is necessary to specifically study whether such problems exist in people with SPD proneness.

Anticipatory affective experience and motivated behaviours are closely related.21,22 According to Klein,21 the experience of appetitive pleasure encourages the acting-out of the pursuit for consummatory pleasure. Similarly, according to the Anticipatory Affect Model,22 the anticipation elicited by cues that indicate possible rewards increases positive affect (arousal), which promotes approach behaviour. Moreover, in lab experiments it has been repeatedly found that pleasure experience has a significant effect on approach motivation.23-26 Psychopharmacological studies also suggested that the abnormalities in dopamine system activation found in reward processing in schizophrenia27 may be related to anhedonia.28 Therefore, pleasure experience and approach motivation are taken together in the present research.

The purpose of the current study was to examine the positive emotional experience in SPD in relation to their approach motivation. We adopted a signal-detection reward task involving a differential reinforcement schedule with monetary rewards. …

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