Award Date

December 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Daniel N. Allen

Second Committee Member

Jefferson W. Kinney

Third Committee Member

Murray G. Millar

Fourth Committee Member

Merrill R. Landers

Number of Pages



The role of stress has long been recognized in schizophrenia; several theories have identified the role of stress as an important factor in the etiology of schizophrenia. A handful of studies have used laboratory psychosocial stressors to examine cortisol stress response in schizophrenia; the results obtained have consistently suggested that the stress response is attenuated in people with schizophrenia. Present study set out to examine stress responsivity in schizophrenia relative to healthy controls. A laboratory stress test was used to investigate cortisol response, heart rate and task appraisal in a sample of 17 healthy controls and 16 men diagnosed with schizophrenia who were clinically stable at the time of testing.

No group differences were found in task appraisal of the TSST or heart rate. Nevertheless, similar to previous research, an attenuated cortisol response was observed in the schizophrenia group, implicating potential disruption of the HPA axis in schizophrenia.

Associations between cortisol response and performance on measures of social cognition and everyday functioning skills were also examined. Lastly, the relationship between childhood trauma and cortisol stress response was examined.


Cortisol; Schizophrenia; Stress; Treir Social Stress Test


Clinical Psychology