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Levels of analysis in etiological research on schizophrenia



Etiological research spanning domains of inquiry as diverse as social psychology and molecular genetics has identified a number of potential factors that likely contribute to the development and clinical manifestation of schizophrenia. In this article, we first highlight the challenges inherent in developing cogent etiological models that represent both the diversity of suspected causal influences and their mechanisms of action. Then, using our own research program as a heuristic context, we present a general analytical framework for identifying and integrating multiple types of etiologic factors across different levels of analysis in the prediction of schizophrenia. In recognition of the myriad complexities of multifactorial causation, we argue that a multilevel causal perspective is required for the development and advancement of a fully nuanced theory of schizophrenia etiology and pathophysiology.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Tyrone D. Cannon, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1285 Franz Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095; E-mail:
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Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
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