Article

Expectancy-value theory in persistence of learning effects in schizophrenia: role of task value and perceived competency.

Department of Psychiatry, Division of Mental Health Services and Policy Research, Columbia University Medical Center, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032, USA.
Schizophrenia Bulletin (Impact Factor: 8.61). 09/2010; 36(5):957-65. DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbq078
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Expectancy-value theory, a widely accepted model of motivation, posits that expectations of success on a learning task and the individual value placed on the task are central determinants of motivation to learn. This is supported by research in healthy controls suggesting that beliefs of self-and-content mastery can be so influential they can predict the degree of improvement on challenging cognitive tasks even more so than general cognitive ability. We examined components of expectancy-value theory (perceived competency and task value), along with baseline arithmetic performance and neuropsychological performance, as possible predictors of learning outcome in a sample of 70 outpatients with schizophrenia randomized to 1 of 2 different arithmetic learning conditions and followed up after 3 months. Results indicated that as with nonpsychiatric samples, perceived self-competency for the learning task was significantly related to perceptions of task value attributed to the learning task. Baseline expectations of success predicted persistence of learning on the task at 3-month follow-up, even after accounting for variance attributable to different arithmetic instruction, baseline arithmetic ability, attention, and self-reports of task interest and task value. We also found that expectation of success is a malleable construct, with posttraining improvements persisting at follow-up. These findings support the notion that expectancy-value theory is operative in schizophrenia. Thus, similar to the nonpsychiatric population, treatment benefits may be enhanced and better maintained if remediation programs also focus on perceptions of self-competency for the training tasks. Treatment issues related to instilling self-efficacy in cognitive recovery programs are discussed.

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