Defeatist performance beliefs in individuals with recent-onset schizophrenia: Relationships with cognition and negative symptoms

Tess F. Filip, Gerhard S. Hellemann, Joseph Ventura, Kenneth L. Subotnik, Michael F. Green, Keith H. Nuechterlein, Amanda McCleery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The cognitive model of negative symptoms of schizophrenia suggests that defeatist performance beliefs (DPB), or overgeneralized negative beliefs about one's performance, are an intermediary variable along the pathway from impaired neurocognitive performance to negative symptoms and functioning in daily life. Although reliable associations between these variables have been established in chronic schizophrenia, less is known about the nature of these relationships in recent-onset schizophrenia (ROSz). This current study tested the associations between DPB and variables in the cognitive model (neurocognitive performance, negative symptoms, functioning) as well as mediation by DPB of the association between neurocognitive performance and negative symptoms in ROSz. Methods: A total of 52 participants (32 adults with ROSz and 20 non-psychiatric healthy comparators; HC) completed in-lab measures of neurocognitive performance, self-reported defeatist performance beliefs, and clinician administered measures of negative symptoms and functional outcome. Bivariate relationships among these variables were tested with Pearson correlations. Bootstrapped regression analyses were conducted to test the strength of the indirect effect of neurocognitive performance on negative symptoms through DPB. Results: Defeatist performance beliefs were significantly elevated in ROSz, and were associated with neurocognitive performance, negative symptoms, and functional outcome as predicted by the cognitive model. There was a significant indirect effect of neurocognition on experiential negative symptoms through DPB, indicating DPB are a partial mediator of the relationship between neurocognitive performance and negative symptoms. Conclusion: These findings are consistent with the cognitive model of negative symptoms and extend previous findings in both ROSz and established schizophrenia. Specifically, these data demonstrate that DPB are elevated among ROSz and the associations with neurocognition and clinical outcomes (e.g., negative symptoms and functioning) are of similar magnitude to those reported in chronic schizophrenia. DPB may therefore be a viable treatment target in the early course of illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-219
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Aug 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cognitive model
  • Defeatist attitudes
  • Functioning
  • Negative symptoms
  • Recent-onset schizophrenia


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