Some Effects of Disparagement on Abstract and Concrete Performances of Schizophrenic and Healthy Individuals.
Rotman, Saul Raphael
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The purpose of this study was to add experimental information to the body of knowledge about schizophrenic behavior. An examination of clinical and experimental evidence led to the formulation of an hypothesis concerning the relationship between threat and performance. specifically the assumptions in the hypothesis were as follows: A decrement in the efficiency of adaptive behavior is related to threatening situations. Different groups of individuals vary in their sensitivity to threatening situations. Differential decrements among various levels of behavior are related to threatening situations. The assumptions that decrements in performance are related to threatening situations and that groups differ in their sensitivity to threatening situations led to the following general prediction: Under conditions of disparagement, schizophrenic patients will show a deficit in the efficiency of their adaptive behaviors when compared with healthy individuals subjected to the same experimental conditions. From the assumptions that groups differ in their sensitivity to threatening situations and that decrements among different levels of behavior are related to threatening situations the following general prediction was formulated: Under conditions of disparagement, schizophrenic patients will show a differential deficit in different levels of behavior when compared with healthy individuals subjected to the same experimental conditions. These general predictions were then restated in terms of experimental expectations, after the operations for the major concepts (variables) were defined as follows: Independent Variable II -- Groups Variation in groups was accomplished by the use of twenty-five schizophrenic patients and twenty-five psychiatric aides from a Veterans Administration Neuropsychiatric Hospital. The criteria for the selection of the schizophrenic group were as follows: (1) staff diagnosis of schizophrenia, (2) no known complicating organic condition, (3) no shock therapy during the past four months, (4)white, (5)male, (6)age range, twenty-five to forty years, (7)education, eight to twelve years, (8)intelligence level, low average to bright normal, (9)continuous hospitalization for at least one year, (10)residing on closed wards, (11)ability to cooperate. The psychiatric aides had been screened psychologically prior to entering employment. For purposes of this study, therefore, they were considered to be a healthy group. So that variations in the subjects would be only on the dimension of schizophrenic and healthy, the groups were equated on the presumably relevant variables of age, education, and intelligence. Independent Variable III -- Tasks Variation in tasks was accomplished by the use of two tasks. Van Wagenen's Graded Analogies were used as an abstract conceptual task. The placing test of the Minnesota Rate of Manipulation Test was used as a concrete motor task. Since it was necessary to compare levels of performance of the two tasks, raw scores were converted to standard scores on the basis of the mean and standard deviation of the combined schizophrenic and healthy groups for each task. Dependent Variable --- Deficit Deficit for either group was defined as a lower mean score following disparagement as compared with the mean score preceding disparagement on either task. Experimental Setting Order of testing within the experimental setting was manipulated to control any effects which might have been introduced by the order of the tests. The experimental test procedures were administered by the same examiner in hospital offices. All subjects were told that they had done very well the second time on the tasks. Experimental Predictions The experimental predictions of this study were as follows: (1)Under conditions of disparagement, a schizophrenic group will show a greater deficit on an abstract conceptual task and on a concrete motor task when compared with a healthy group. (2)Under conditions of disparagement, a schizophrenic group will show a greater relative deficit on an abstract conceptual task than on a concrete motor task when compared with a healthy group. Statistical Model The statistical model used to test these predictions was a three way factorial analysis of variance. This analysis was based on general principles of analysis of variance for repeated measurements. Formulae for computing sums of squares of standard scores directly from the raw scores were specifically set up for this analysis. Results The data from the two original groups did not support the predictions formulated in this study. In view of the fact that both predictions were not confirmed, closer examination of the data was made in an attempt to explain the negative results. This inspection indicated that following disparagement the paranoid schizophrenic group of patients in the original schizophrenic group performed in the same way as the healthy group. As there is considerable clinical and experimental justification in believing that paranoid schizophrenic individuals differ from patients in other subcategories of schizophrenia, an analysis was done on the original schizophrenic group without the paranoid patients. The modified non-paranoid schizophrenic group remained equated with the healthy group for age, education, and intelligence. The data from the modified group did not support the first prediction. However, the data supported the second prediction that under conditions of disparagement schizophrenic patients will show a differential deficit in different levels of behavior when compared with healthy individuals subjected to the same experimental conditions. Discussion The results of the study sharpen the variables operating in the statements of the original predictions. The level of the task appears to be a significant variable in understanding reactions to threatening situations. This can be explained in terms of the developmental levels that have been proposed by Werner, Goldstein, et.al. who considered abstract behavior to be more vulnerable than concrete behavior. The tendency of paranoid schizophrenic patients to react like healthy individuals might explain why the original schizophrenic group which consisted of one-third paranoid schizophrenic patients would not tend to be different from the healthy group. Conclusions This study attempted to support certain assumptions derived from experimental and clinical evidence on the importance of stress to performance by schizophrenic individuals. These individuals have been described often as unusually sensitive to signes and remarks that they are inferior or inadequate. It has also been found that many schizophrenic patients show a greater deficit on tests designed to measure concept formation than do healthy individuals. The suggestion has been made that the deficit in performance on conceptual tasks found in schizophrenic patients may vary in relation to factors in the situation rather than being constant. The results of the present study suggest that, for non-paranoid schizophrenic patients, reaction to disparaging remarks is reflected in a deficit in performance on conceptual tasks and not on concrete tasks. The findings of this study tend to support the notion that the differential in levels of processes impaired among schizophrenic individuals is a function, in part, of environmental factors. Suggestions for further classification of this problem are outlined.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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