Theoretical Analysis of the Apathy Diagnostical Measurement



The article lays out a theoretical analysis of the problem with diagnosing apathy in today's research. Apathy is a state characterized by a simultaneous decrease in the behavioral, cognitive and emotional concomitants of goal-directed behavior due to loss of motivation [15]. Behavioral changes lie in a declining everyday problem-solving effectiveness at home or work. Cognitive changes result in reduced cognitive functioning and a lack of plans and life strategies. Emotional changes manifest in a decrease in affective response to events that previously elicited either a positive or negative emotional response. Diagnostic criteria, or the 'gold standard' for apathy, identify behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and social symptoms of apathy that cause clinically significant disorders in personal, social, professional, or other important areas of life. The differential diagnosis of apathy involves its clinical distinction from syndromes such as delirium, dementia, depression, abulia, akinesia, and demoralization. The review can be useful for psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and all practitioners who interact with people at risk of developing apathetic states.

General Information

Keywords: apathy, symptom, syndrome, clinical assessment, differential assessment

Journal rubric: Theoretical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The research was supported by the grant of the President of the Russian Federation for the state support of young Russian scientists and candidates of sciences (project No. МК-541.2020.6).

For citation: Zolotareva A.A. Theoretical Analysis of the Apathy Diagnostical Measurement [Elektronnyi resurs]. Klinicheskaia i spetsial'naia psikhologiia = Clinical Psychology and Special Education, 2021. Vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 17–30. DOI: 10.17759/cpse.2021100302. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Alyona A. Zolotareva, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, Senior Research Fellow at the International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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