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Schizophr Res. 2010 Dec;124(1-3):66-73. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2010.06.012.

Is social anhedonia related to emotional responsivity and expressivity? A laboratory study in women.

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Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, 1123 Biology-Psychology Building, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


Social anhedonia is an important feature of schizophrenia and it is a promising indicator of schizotypy. Although social anhedonia is defined as an affective construct (less pleasure derived from social encounters), little is known about the emotional responsivity and expressivity of individuals with high levels of social anhedonia. After screening a large sample of female undergraduate students (N = 1 085), a cohort of psychometrically identified individuals with high levels of social anhedonia (n = 34) and normally hedonic controls (n = 45) participated in laboratory assessments involving trait affectivity, self-reported dispositional emotional expressiveness, and the expression and experience of emotion in response to neutral, non-affiliative (i.e., comedy) and affiliative film clips. Results revealed that individuals with high levels of social anhedonia are characterized by lower positive affect, both as a trait and in response to emotionally evocative stimuli, and are less facially expressive, both by their own self-report and in response to film clips. Attenuated positive affect was observed across film stimuli, indicating a general reduction in affective response rather than a specific decrease in responsivity for affiliative stimuli. Future work should continue to investigate whether there is a unique role for social stimuli in the emotional lives of individuals with high levels of social anhedonia or whether these individuals tend to experience anhedonia more broadly regardless of social context.

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