Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disease and carries a profound burden of illness and disability. Schizotypy, reflecting personality traits associated with a vulnerability for schizophrenia-spectrum pathology, is characterized, in part, by a tendency to experience psychotic-like symptoms (PLS). Perceived social support, or lack thereof, plays a role in the intensity of PLS. Etiological mechanisms underlying PLS, such as monolithic social support, are putatively expected to be common across individuals sharing elevated schizotypal traits. This “nomothetic” model fails to appreciate that social support is multidimensional and likely idiographic in its effects on PLS. Another salient issue that arises when attempting to understand PLS concerns their historical assessment (e.g., laboratory-based questionnaires or clinical interviews). Ambulatory assessment, which involves naturalistic data collection, uniquely facilitates studying the temporal complexity of PLS while also providing large streams of longitudinal and “idiographic” data streams that enable modeling person-specific psychological processes. The present study evaluated how social support across multiple domains (e.g., family, friends, significant other, academic) was related with PLS and assessed how common this network was across individuals by modeling general- and person-specific associations between social support and PLS using ambulatory assessment methods over 15 days. Contrary to expectations, there was little support for a general-level connection between poor social support and PLS in schizotypy. Person-specific models of PLS revealed dramatic heterogeneity across participants in terms of the magnitude of effects, direction, and lagged associations among the social support-PLS linkage. Findings provide further support for creating idiographic profiles of clinical data to improve etiologic theories and long-term outcomes via tailored interventions.



Committee Chair

Cohen, Alex S.