Time will tell: Associations between unbalanced time perspectives and symptom severity in individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders


Patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorder (SSD) experience disrupted temporality on the immediate timescale. However, insufficient information is available for longer time frames, and the interaction of temporal perspectives with the clinical manifestations of SSD is unknown. We explored the association between unbalanced time perspectives and symptom severity. Thirty-seven Italian mental health services participating in the DiAPAson project recruited 620 patients with DSM-5 SSD (68 % males, mean age = 41.3 ± 9.5 years). Time perspective biases were measured using the Deviation from the Balanced Time Perspective-revisited (DBTP-r) indicator, based on Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI) scores. Psychiatric symptoms were assessed using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and Brief Negative Symptoms Scale (BNSS). Preliminary analyses examined the associations between ZTPI/DBTP-r and BPRS/BNSS total scores. In secondary analyses, we first tested the associations between the ZTPI/DBTP-r and BPRS/BNSS subscales and then compared ZTPI differences between patients with and without hallucinations, delusions, and conceptual disorganisation. Statistical significance was set at Holm-Bonferroni corrected p < 0.05. Low-to-moderate positive correlations were found between the DBTP-r and BPRS/BNSS total scores (r = 0.29/0.22). The strongest associations were between DBTP-r/ZTPI_Past-Negative and anxiety/depression (r = 0.34/0.36), followed by DBTP-r/ZTPI_Present-Fatalistic with thought disturbances (r = 0.22/0.20). DBTP-r was associated with BNSS anhedonia and avolition (r = 0.21/0.24). DBTP-r was higher in patients with hallucinations (ES = 0.391) and conceptual disorganisation (ES = 0.397) than in those without these symptoms. Unbalanced time perspective was positively associated with the severity of primary and secondary SSD features. These findings provide a rationale for empirical tests focused on balancing time perspectives in patients with SSD.