Schizophrenia risk, stress, and resilience: a longitudinal investigation into the effects of schizotypy on stress, and the moderation of resilience.
Previous research has shown that individuals with and at risk of schizophrenia display a heightened sensitivity and reactivity to minor, moderate, and major stressors. Although stress sensitivity is well established, there are a lack of longitudinal studies investigating the progression of these stress reactions, as well as a lack of studies investigating which factors of schizophrenia contribute to this heightened sensitivity and reactivity. As a result, only inferences from cross-sectional studies can be made concerning the progression of stress among those with differing levels of risk. Furthermore, resiliency as a factor affecting the expression of sensitivity and reactivity has yet to be considered in literature, even though it directly relates to an individual’s ability to effectively desensitise themselves from the negative repercussions of a stressor. For these reasons, the aim of this study was to investigate the relationship among factors of schizophrenia risk, stress sensitivity, longitudinal reactivity, and the moderating effects of resilience. Undergraduates (n = 230) completed questionnaires assessing demographic variables, depression, schizotypy, resilience, and stress sensitivity, and then took part in a stress task. Following this, factors of stress reaction were immediately and longitudinally assessed. As expected, schizotypy predicted stress sensitivity, resilience, and initial and longitudinal stress reactivity factors. However, some novel findings were observed including a positive relationship between cognitive-perceptual experience and resilience, and evidence of longitudinal sensitisation. The findings of the current study build on the already well-established relationship between schizophrenia and stress, not only showing that those at risk of schizophrenia display increased reactions to stressors, but additionally display sensitisation and persistence of stress reactivity to that stressor. Implications regarding the reconceptualization of stress reactivity are discussed.
Advisor: Linscott, Richard
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Schizophrenia; Schizotypy; Stress Sensitivity; Stress Reactivity; Stress; Resilience; Longitudinal
Research Type: Thesis