Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Lizabeth Roemer

Second Advisor

Laurel Wainwright

Third Advisor

Paul Nestor


Schizophrenia is a debilitating disease, accompanied by heterogeneous symptoms and emotional processing deficits, such as decreased positive affect, as well as significant functional impairment. Although cognitive behavioral therapy has demonstrated some effectiveness for this population, more recently developed mindfulness and acceptance-based treatments may decrease emotional difficulties for people with schizophrenia in conjunction with standard psychopharmacological treatment. In Study 1, we explored correlational associations among variables of interest, while Study 2 provided an experimental examination of the causal effects of a mindfulness manipulation on emotional responding. In Study 1, 211 participants from a large urban university completed self-report questionnaires, including measures of psychosis-proneness, anticipatory pleasure, emotional processing, quality of life, subjective happiness, and trait mindfulness. We found that psychosis-proneness was significantly correlated with lower levels of positive and higher levels of negative affect. Participants higher in psychosis-proneness also tended to have significantly lower anticipatory pleasure, higher alexithymia, and higher distress about emotions in general and positive emotions in particular. Also, psychosis-proneness was significantly negatively correlated with trait mindfulness, quality of life, and subjective happiness. In Study 2, 24 participants were recruited from Study 1 and were randomly assigned to a mindfulness or control comparison condition. Participants viewed positive film clips and an affectively mixed clip before and after a mindfulness or control manipulation. Participants in the mindfulness condition reported less reduced levels of positive affect in response to the first post-manipulation positive film clip, with medium-sized effects (though not statistically significant). There were no condition differences in positive affect in response to the second post-manipulation positive clip, nor were there condition differences in reported negative affect or acceptance in response to either post-manipulation positive film clip. Lastly, differences on reported clarity in response to the post-manipulation affectively mixed clip between conditions did not emerge. Given recent research on clinical high risk and psychosis-proneness as an opportunity for intervention before conversion to illness, it may be valuable for clinicians to use mindfulness to increase the experiencing of and engagement with positive emotion to facilitate more effective stress management and increase emotional resources for this vulnerable population.


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