In schizophrenia, blunted affect has been argued to reflect difficulties with the amplification of emotion expressive behavior. The aim of the present study was to assess whether ostensibly healthy individuals vulnerable to schizophrenia present with similar difficulties. In the first component of the study, 843 non-clinical participants completed the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire, of which 27 scoring in the upper 15% (high schizotypy group) and 27 scoring in the lower 15% (low schizotypy group) were asked to watch amusing film clips, whilst engaging in different emotion regulatory strategies, and specifically, amplify the expression of an experienced emotion ('amplification') or suppress the expression of an experienced emotion ('suppression'). The results indicate that highly schizotypal participants present with specific difficulties with the amplification (but not suppression) of emotion expressive behavior. These difficulties are significantly correlated with total negative schizotypy, particularly blunted affect. In the second component of the study, an individual differences approach was used to assess the interrelationship between self-reported use of suppression and schizotypy in an independent sample of 204 community volunteers. The results suggest that, although blunted affect is associated with increased use of suppression, it cannot be regarded as the primary mechanism underpinning this disturbance. Implications for understanding blunted affect in schizophrenia and related disorders are discussed.
- Emotion regulation
- Emotional blunting