Schizotypy as An Organizing Framework for Social and Affective Sciences

Cohen, Alex S. ; Mohr, Christine ; Ettinger, Ulrich ; Chan, Raymond C. K. ; Park, Sohee

In: Schizophrenia Bulletin, 2015, vol. 41, p. S427-S435

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    Schizotypy, defined in terms of commonly occurring personality traits related to the schizophrenia spectrum, has been an important construct for understanding the neurodevelopment and stress-diathesis of schizophrenia. However, as schizotypy nears its sixth decade of application, it is important to acknowledge its impressively rich literature accumulating outside of schizophrenia research. In this article, we make the case that schizotypy has considerable potential as a conceptual framework for understanding individual differences in affective and social functions beyond those directly involved in schizophrenia spectrum pathology. This case is predicated on (a) a burgeoning literature noting anomalies in a wide range of social functioning, affiliative, positive and negative emotional, expressive, and social cognitive systems, (b) practical and methodological features associated with schizotypy research that help facilitate empirical investigation, and (c) close ties to theoretical constructs of central importance to affective and social science (eg, stress diathesis, neural compensation). We highlight recent schizotypy research, ie providing insight into the nature of affective and social systems more generally. This includes current efforts to clarify the neurodevelopmental, neurobiological, and psychological underpinnings of affiliative drives, hedonic capacity, social cognition, and stress responsivity systems. Additionally, we discuss neural compensatory and resilience factors that may mitigate the expression of stress-diathesis and functional outcome, and highlight schizotypy's potential role for understanding cultural determinants of social and affective functions