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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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56. Social Affiliation and Threat Reactivity in a Transdiagnostic Sample with Psychosis

Research in non-clinical samples has demonstrated that social relationships can protect against stress. The presence of an affiliative partner during cues of threat has been associated with reduced threat-response in several brain regions. Symptoms in psychosis (e.g., social anhedonia or paranoia) may limit the benefits derived from social relations. In the present study, a transdiagnostic sample of individuals with psychosis was exposed to randomized cues of safety and threat (indicating risk of shock) while alone, with a partner, or with a stranger. We hypothesized that the presence of an affiliative partner would be associated with lower tonic skin conductance response (SCR), a proxy for sympathetic nervous system activity, during cues of threat as compared to the presence of a stranger or being alone.

A repeated measures ANOVA (N = 40) found a main effect for cue (F = 29.07, p < .001), but no main effect for social condition, on SCR. Results indicated a significant interaction effect between type of cue and social condition (F= 9.29, p < .001) such that, compared to the alone condition, the partner and stranger conditions resulted in lower SCR during threat cues. Additional analyses will examine symptom correlates of threat responding in this transdiagnostic sample.

Ryan Orth
University of Maryland, College Park

Alexandra Andrea
University of Maryland, College Park

Christina Savage
University of Maryland, College Park

Jason Smith
University of Maryland, College Park

Melanie Bennett
University of Maryland, School of Medicine

Jack Blanchard
University of Maryland, College Park


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