Anhedonia in Schizophrenia: The Roles of Anticipatory and Consummatory Pleasure

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The negative symptoms of schizophrenia, particularly anhedonia and amotivation, are associated with poor functioning and contribute to the chronicity of the illness. There are currently very few targeted interventions available for these difficulties. The Temporal Experience of Pleasure model suggests that there is a specific deficit in anticipatory pleasure in people with schizophrenia. However, studies in this field have produced conflicting results.

The studies conducted had three broad aims. The first was to assess self-reported pleasure and its association with symptoms and mood. The second was to develop an experimental task that measured, for the first time, both anticipatory and consummatory pleasure using the same stimuli. This allowed a direct test of the hypothesis that there is a specific anticipatory pleasure deficit in people with schizophrenia. The final aim was to examine whether reduced anticipatory pleasure contributes to lower activity levels in everyday life.

The results demonstrated that people with schizophrenia had comparable levels of anticipatory and consummatory pleasure to controls but a larger discrepancy between these ratings. Furthermore, anticipatory pleasure and expectation drive activity levels in the everyday life of control participants but these links were not present in people with schizophrenia. Positive affect was found to influence anticipatory pleasure across all three methodologies.

These findings suggest that people with schizophrenia have difficulty translating anticipation into goal-directed activities. Positive mood may be an important contributor to anticipatory pleasure. The link between anticipation and activity may be an important therapeutic target for improvement in both negative symptoms and functional outcomes.
Date of Award1 Apr 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorNicholas Tarrier (Supervisor), Til Wykes (Supervisor) & Matteo Cella (Supervisor)

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