Allocating effort and anticipating pleasure in schizophrenia: Relationship with real world functioning

M. Serper, E. Payne, C. Dill, C. Portillo, J. Taliercio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background Poor motivation to engage in goal-oriented behavior has been recognized as a hallmark feature of schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SZ). Low drive in SZ may be related to anticipating rewards as well as to poor working memory. However, few studies to date have examined beliefs about self-efficacy and satisfaction for future rewards (anticipatory pleasure). Additionally, few studies to date have examined how these deficits may impact SZ patients’ real world functioning. Method The present study examined SZ patients’ (n = 57) anticipatory pleasure, working memory, self-efficacy and real world functioning in relation to their negative symptom severity. Results Results revealed that SZ patients’ negative symptom severity was related to decisions in effort allocation and reward probability, working memory deficits, self-efficacy and anticipatory pleasure for future reward. Effort allocation deficits also predicted patients’ daily functioning skills. Conclusions SZ patients with high levels of negative symptoms are not merely effort averse, but have more difficulty effectively allocating effort and anticipating pleasure engaging in effortful activities. It may be the case that continuously failing to achieve reinforcement from engagement and participation may lead SZ patients to form certain negative beliefs about their abilities which contributes to amotivation and cognitive deficits. Lastly, our findings provide further support for a link between SZ patients functional daily living skills their effort allocation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-64
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Amotivation
  • Defeatist beliefs
  • Reward expectation
  • Schizophrenia
  • Self-efficacy
  • Temporal discounting


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