The effects of task engagement and interpersonal rapport on WCST performance in schizophrenia

David L. Roberts, David L. Penn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Individuals with schizophrenia typically perform poorly on measures of executive function. This poor performance is widely attributed to disease-related cognitive deficits; however, the influence of task engagement and interpersonal rapport has not been adequately evaluated. In the present study, 30 individuals with schizophrenia completed two trials each of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), a measure of executive function. Between trials, half of the participants received enhanced instructions (i.e., explanation of the underlying rules and strategy coaching). It was hypothesized that the enhanced instruction group would achieve better WCST scores, and that this group difference would be mediated by participants' self-reported task engagement on the WCST and rapport with the experimenter. Results showed significantly improved WCST performance in the enhanced-instruction group, but the groups did not differ in task engagement or rapport. Task engagement showed a trend-level association with WCST performance across all participants. These findings suggest that further research is necessary to understand potential motivational mechanisms underlying executive functioning performance in schizophrenia. Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Executive functioning
  • Motivation
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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