Measures of intrafamilial expressed emotion (EE) predict relapse in schizophrenic patients, but previous research has not investigated whether EE scores are representative of ongoing family transactions. Parents of 42 hospitalized schizophrenic patients were rated for level and type of EE. Following the patient's discharge, families participated in two 10-minute direct interaction tasks. Transcripts from these interactions were coded on dimensions of affective communication.
High-EE parents exhibited more negatively charged emotional verbal behaviour in direct transaction with their schizophrenic offspring than did low-EE parents. Some parents rated high-EE were distinguished by their frequent usage of critical comments during the interactions, whereas high-EE overinvolved parents used more intrusive, invasive statements. These findings support the construct validity of expressed emotion.