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Exploring the relationship between the anticipation and experience of pleasure in people with schizophrenia: An experience sampling study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Early online date7 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jul 2018


King's Authors


Background It has been hypothesised that a reduction in anticipatory pleasure contributes to reduced levels of functioning in people with schizophrenia. Previous research on anticipatory pleasure, however, reports mixed findings and has not yet examined the link between anticipatory pleasure and activity. The aim of this study is to examine how pleasure anticipation is related to difficulties engaging in activity in people with schizophrenia. Method A healthy control group (n = 44) and a group of individuals with schizophrenia (n = 36) completed an experience sampling study using portable devices. Participants rated motivation, mood, functional, leisure and social activity levels; anticipatory and consummatory pleasure seven times a day for six consecutive days. Multi-level regression models were constructed to examine the role of anticipatory pleasure and/or motivation in predicting future activities. Results The findings showed no evidence for a motivation or pleasure deficit in people with schizophrenia. Yet, people with schizophrenia did fewer functional activities and spent more time “resting” or “doing nothing”. In the control group, expectation was the only significant predictor of future activity. In contrast, none of the parameters assessed could predict experiences occurring in people with schizophrenia. Conclusions In contrast with controls people with schizophrenia did not show a link between their predictions and the activities they engaged in. This appears to be an important process influencing functioning in people with psychosis. Future interventions targeting reduced functioning should focus on reinforcing the link between pleasure anticipation and goal-directed behaviour.

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