Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Individuals with schizophrenia tend to demonstrate patterns of atypical semantic activation, which are characterized by increased activation of weakly associated words within the semantic network. Although atypical semantic activation is associated with formal thought disorder, tangential speech, and poor long-term functioning in schizophrenia, very little is known about this variable in individuals with schizotypy, or the 10% of the population who demonstrate personality traits presumed to reflect genetic liability to schizophrenia. In this project, we employed highly sensitive laboratory procedures to test whether individuals with schizotypy (n = 45) display increased atypical semantic activation compared to a non-schizotypy group (n = 26). We also examined odd speech across four conditions that varied according to valence (pleasant, unpleasant) and arousal (high, low), investigated creativity, and analyzed the role of atypical semantic activation in odd speech and creativity in schizotypy. In this study, we observed that the schizotypy group demonstrated significantly increased atypical semantic activation, on the order of a large effect size, and performed significantly better on creativity tasks compared to the non-schizotypy group. Odd speech analyses were less conclusive. Overall, the schizotypy group demonstrated a slight increase, on the order of a small effect size, compared to the non-schizotypy group. This increase appeared to be the most robust in high arousal speech conditions. We did not find conclusive evidence for our hypotheses that atypical semantic activation influences odd speech or creativity. Potential implications of this study and future directions for examining atypical semantic activation, odd speech, and creativity across the schizophrenia-spectrum are also discussed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Cohen, Alex S



Included in

Psychology Commons