An ecological momentary assessment evaluation of emotion regulation abnormalities in schizophrenia

Katherine Frost Visser, Farnaz Zamani Esfahlani, Hiroki Sayama, Gregory P. Strauss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Background Prior studies using self-report questionnaires and laboratory-based methods suggest that schizophrenia is characterized by abnormalities in emotion regulation (i.e. using strategies to increase or decrease the frequency, duration, or intensity of negative emotion). However, it is unclear whether these abnormalities reflect poor emotion regulation effort or adequate effort, but limited effectiveness. It is also unclear whether dysfunction results primarily from one of the three stages of the emotion regulation process: identification, selection, or implementation.Method The current study used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to address these questions in the context of everyday activities. Participants included 28 outpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia (SZ) and 28 demographically matched healthy controls (CN) who completed 6 days of EMA reports of in-the-moment emotional experience, emotion regulation strategy use, and context.Results Results indicated that SZ demonstrated adequate emotion regulation effort, but poor effectiveness. Abnormalities were observed at each of the three stages of the emotion regulation process. At the identification stage, SZ initiated emotion regulation efforts at a lower threshold of negative emotion intensity. At the selection stage, SZ selected more strategies than CN and strategies attempted were less contextually appropriate. At the implementation stage, moderate to high levels of effort were ineffective at decreasing negative emotion.Conclusions Findings suggest that although SZ attempt to control their emotions using various strategies, often applying more effort than CN, these efforts are unsuccessful; emotion regulation abnormalities may result from difficulties at the identification, selection, and implementation stages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2337-2345
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect
  • experience sampling
  • psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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