Emotion awareness and regulation in individuals with schizophrenia: Implications for social functioning

David Kimhy, Julia Vakhrusheva, Lauren Jobson-Ahmed, Nicholas Tarrier, Dolores Malaspina, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations

Abstract

Successful social functioning requires adaptive forms of emotion awareness and regulation. However, despite well-documented deficits in social functioning in individuals with schizophrenia, little is known about emotion awareness and regulation in this population. Therefore, we compared emotion awareness and regulation in individuals with schizophrenia and healthy controls, and then, within the schizophrenia group, we examined their impact on social functioning. Forty-four individuals with schizophrenia and 20 healthy controls completed measures of emotion awareness, emotion regulation, and social functioning, in addition to control measures, including neurocognitive functioning. Compared to controls, individuals with schizophrenia displayed significant deficits describing and identifying their emotions and used significantly less reappraisal and more suppression to regulate their emotions. Among the schizophrenia group, better social functioning was associated with the ability to identify, and in particular to describe emotions, better emotion management, as well as greater use of reappraisal and less use of suppression. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that, after controlling for age and neurocognition, difficulties describing feelings accounted for 35% of the social functioning variance. The present study highlights the importance of emotion awareness and regulation in schizophrenia, pointing to their substantial influence on social functioning above and beyond the impact of neurocognitive functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research
Volume200
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - 30 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alexithymia
  • Emotion processing
  • Negative symptoms
  • Neurocognition
  • Reappraisal
  • Social cognition
  • Suppression

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