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Research Findings Show Negative Schizotypal Traits Predicting Reward Motivation Reduction in Effort-reward Imbalance
Author: Dr. Raymond Chan      Update time: 2022/06/08
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Effort-reward imbalance (ERI) is the ability to an imbalance between high-effort commitment and low-reward outcome, i.e., when one perceives that he/she expends greater efforts but gains disproportionately few rewards, and is important for our everyday life functioning.  Recent findings suggest that participants with high levels of schizotypy are more likely to perceive ERI. Moreover, there is also a correlation between ERI and grey matter volume reduction and altered resting-state functional connectivity in participants with high level of schizotypy. However, the underlying relationship between ERI and motivation to reward is yet fully known. In particular, it is not clear whether the effects of ERI on motivation may vary in different subtypes of schizotypal groups. 

To bridge such a gap of knowledge, Drs. Jia HUANG and Raymond Chan from the Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience (NACN) Laboratory, the CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology and their collaborators have conducted a study to investigate to what extent E/R ratio would be related to reward motivation and whether the relationship between the ERI and reward motivation can be differentially moderated by the schizotypal subtypes. They recruited 843 college students to complete a set of online checklists specifically capturing schizotypal personality traits, ERI and motivation. They then conducted multiple linear regressions to construct models to investigate the moderating effects of schizotypal traits on the relationship between ERI and reward motivation. Their findings showed that stressful ERI situation predicted the reduction of reward motivation. However, schizotypal subtypes showed differential prediction and moderation effects. In particular, negative schizotypal traits showed a significant negative moderating effect on the relationship between ERI and reward motivation while positive and disorganized schizotypal traits had significant positive moderating effects.

Taken together, these findings suggest schizotypal traits subtypes moderate differently the relationship between ERI and reward motivation and highlight the importance of developing specific intervention strategies to improve reward motivation and goal-directed behaviour in subclinical populations.

Fig. 1 Moderating Models of schizotypal traits in the relationship between E/R ratio and reward motivation
E/R ratio = the ratio of effort/reward; MAP = total scores of Motivation and Pleasure Scale-Self Report (MAP-SR); NS = scores of interpersonal subscale of Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ); PS = scores of cognitive-perceptual subscale of Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ); DS = scores of disorganized subscale of Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ). * p < 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p < 0.001; n.s. p > 0.05. (Image by Dr. Raymond Chan)

This study was supported by grants from the CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health of the Institute of Psychology.

This study was published online on May 31, 2022 in European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience,
- Yan, Y. J., Hu, H. X., Wang, L. L., Zhang, Y. J., Lui, S. S. Y., Huang, J.*, Chan, R. C. K. (in press). Negative schizotypal traits predict the reduction of reward motivation in effort-reward imbalance. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience.

Related publication:
- Yan, Y. J., Huang, J.*, Lui, S. S. Y., Cheung, E. F. C., Madsen, K. H., Chan, R. C. K.* (2021).The effect of effort-reward imbalance on brain structure and resting-state functional connectivity in individuals with high levels of schizotypal traits. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 26, 166-182.

LIU Chen
Institute of Psychology
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing 100101, China.
E-mail: liuc@psych.ac.cn

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