Splitting of Associative Threads: The Expression of Schizotypal Ambivalence in Daily Life

Abstract

Ambivalence, which refers to the simultaneous experience of contradictory emotions and cognitions, has a longstanding and important role in the study of both normal and pathological functioning. Bleuler and Meehl viewed ambivalence as a central component of schizophrenic, and more broadly schizotypic, psychopathology. Ambivalence is associated with questionnaire and interview measures of schizotypic symptoms and impairment. However, its real-world expression has not been explored. The present study examined the expression of ambivalence, as assessed by the Schizotypal Ambivalence Scale, in daily life using experience sampling methodology. Specifically, it examined the association of ambivalence with affect, daily activities, and social and cognitive functioning in the moment. A sample of 430 male and female young adults completed an average of 42 daily life assessments during a one-week period. Ambivalence predicted diminished positive affect, increased negative affect, cognitive impairment, and social impairment. Furthermore, ambivalence moderated the effects of social closeness, emotional expression, and activity enjoyment on affect and functioning in daily life. Specifically, ambivalence was associated with affective dysregulation and greater reactivity to social stress. The present findings provided the first examination of the expression of ambivalence in daily life and support its inclusion as a component of schizophrenia-spectrum psychopathology.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank A. J. Anderson, Gena Hope, Ben Cline and Sarah Coates for their assistance with data collection

Conflict of Interest

Chris J. Burgin declares that there is no conflict of interest, Charlotte A. Chun declares that there is no conflict of interest, Leslie E. Horton declares that there is no conflict of interest, Neus Barrantes-Vidal declares that there is no conflict of interest, Thomas R. Kwapil declares that there is no conflict of interest.

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All participants completed an informed consent before participating and the experiment was in compliance with ethical standards set forth by the IRB.

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Correspondence to Chris J. Burgin.

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Chris J. Burgin and Charlotte A. Chun are joint first-authors.

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Burgin, C.J., Chun, C.A., Horton, L.E. et al. Splitting of Associative Threads: The Expression of Schizotypal Ambivalence in Daily Life. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 37, 349–357 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-014-9457-7

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Keywords

  • Schizotypal ambivalence
  • Experience sampling methodology
  • Schizotypy
  • Schizophrenia
  • Daily life