Abstract

Flat affect is a core symptom of schizophrenia. To date, researchers have focused primarily on emotional expression. Only recently has the emotional experience of patients with schizophrenia been studied in laboratory settings. The goal of this study is to assess emotional experience in the complex world of daily life. A structured time-sampling technique, the Experience Sampling Method, was used to collect data. Schizophrenia subjects (n=58) were compared to 65 nonpatient controls. Patients were divided into blunted and nonblunted subgroups on the basis of Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) behavioral ratings of flat affect. Schizophrenia subjects experienced more intense and more variable negative emotions than controls. For the positive emotions, we found less intensity and less variability in the schizophrenia subjects. No difference in patterns of affect was found between the blunted and the nonblunted schizophrenia subgroups. Our findings suggest that patients with schizophrenia are more emotionally active than has been assumed based on behavioral observations.