Recent trends in testing social cognition

Julie D. Henry*, David G. Cowan, Teresa Lee, Perminder S. Sachdev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Social cognition refers broadly to the way in which we process social information, and is a critical predictor of social competency. This article provides an overview of some of the assessment approaches that have been developed to assess this construct.

RECENT FINDINGS: A variety of well validated assessment approaches are now available. The most frequently used methods index explicit emotion recognition and/or mental state attribution. There has also been an increasing emphasis on the need to better understand the role of specific perceptual features and cognitive task demands in social cognitive difficulties.

SUMMARY: In the past 20 years, research on social cognitive function has grown exponentially, reflecting an increased recognition that social cognitive skills are critical for communicative discourse, and in turn mental health and well-being. Accordingly, a large number of measures are now available to quantify social cognitive function. This review shows that many of these measures have good psychometric properties, and appear to have at least moderate sensitivity. However, the review also highlights the importance of using appropriate control tasks to assess the specificity of any observed social cognitive failures, as well as the need for the continued development of measures with greater ecological validity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical assessment
  • ecological validity
  • facial affect recognition
  • social cognition
  • theory of mind


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