Linking social cognition with social interaction

non-verbal expressivity, social competence and "mentalising" in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders

Martin Brüne*, Mona Abdel-Hamid, Claudia Sonntag, Caroline Lehmkämper, Robyn Langdon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Research has shown that patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) can be distinguished from controls on the basis of their non-verbal expression. For example, patients with SSD use facial expressions less than normals to invite and sustain social interaction. Here, we sought to examine whether non-verbal expressivity in patients corresponds with their impoverished social competence and neurocognition. Method: Fifty patients with SSD were videotaped during interviews. Non-verbal expressivity was evaluated using the Ethological Coding System for Interviews (ECSI). Social competence was measured using the Social Behaviour Scale and psychopathology was rated using the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale. Neurocognitive variables included measures of IQ, executive functioning, and two mentalising tasks, which tapped into the ability to appreciate mental states of story characters. Results: Non-verbal expressivity was reduced in patients relative to controls. Lack of "prosocial" nonverbal signals was associated with poor social competence and, partially, with impaired understanding of others' minds, but not with non-social cognition or medication. Conclusion: This is the first study to link deficits in non-verbal expressivity to levels of social skills and awareness of others' thoughts and intentions in patients with SSD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral and Brain Functions
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

© 2009 Brüne et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Linking social cognition with social interaction: non-verbal expressivity, social competence and "mentalising" in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this