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Psychological Dimensions Relevant to Motivation and Pleasure in Schizophrenia.


Motivation and pleasure deficits are common in schizophrenia, strongly linked with poorer functioning, and may reflect underlying alterations in brain functions governing reward processing and goal pursuit. While there is extensive research examining cognitive and reward mechanisms related to these deficits in schizophrenia, less attention has been paid to psychological characteristics that contribute to resilience against, or risk for, motivation and pleasure impairment. For example, psychological tendencies involving positive future expectancies (e.g., optimism) and effective affect management (e.g., reappraisal, mindfulness) are associated with aspects of reward anticipation and evaluation that optimally guide goal-directed behavior. Conversely, maladaptive thinking patterns (e.g., defeatist performance beliefs, asocial beliefs) and tendencies that amplify negative cognitions (e.g., rumination), may divert cognitive resources away from goal pursuit or reduce willingness to exert effort. Additionally, aspects of sociality, including the propensity to experience social connection as positive reinforcement may be particularly relevant for pursuing social goals. In the current review, we discuss the roles of several psychological characteristics with respect to motivation and pleasure in schizophrenia. We argue that individual variation in these psychological dimensions is relevant to the study of motivation and reward processing in schizophrenia, including interactions between these psychological dimensions and more well-characterized cognitive and reward processing contributors to motivation. We close by emphasizing the value of considering a broad set of modulating factors when studying motivation and pleasure functions in schizophrenia.

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