Background and Hypotheses

Poor social functioning is common among individuals at clinical high-risk (CHR) for psychosis and is associated with greater likelihood of conversion. Unfortunately, processes contributing to social impairment are unclear, making social functioning difficult to improve via treatment. The current study examined whether abnormalities in social functioning result from aberrant temporal interactions between social motivation and behavior.

Study Design

Participants included 105 individuals at CHR and 62 healthy controls (CN) who completed 6 days of ecological momentary assessment. Multilevel models examined time-lagged interactions between social behavior and motivation.

Study Results

CHR and CN did not differ in social motivation; however, CHR were less likely to interact with family and coworkers and more likely to engage in interactions via phone and text/social media. Autocorrelations indicated that social behavior and motivation were generally consistent across time in CHR and CN groups. Time-lagged analyses indicated that both groups had an increase in social motivation across time when they were alone and a decrease in social motivation across time when they were with others. However, the relative decrease when with others and increase when alone were less robust in CHR than CN, particularly for in-person interactions. Social motivation at time t did not differentially impact social partner or modality at time t+1 in the groups.


Findings suggest that social behavior and motivation have different temporal interactions in CHR and CN. Psychosocial interventions may benefit from targeting the frequency of social behavior with specific partners and modalities to change social motivation.

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