Social knowldge and social cognition dissociate in schizophrenia

Robyn Langdon, Emily Connaughton, Vince Polito

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


    Introduction: There is a common view that social deficits in schizophrenia reflect a general impairment of social intelligence. This view fails to distinguish between knowledge and process, in particular, the knowledge of social rules versus the cognitive processes for inferring other people’s thoughts (i.e. ‘‘theory of mind’’: ToM). Aims: This study used a novel Social Judgment Task to assess reasoning about social rules and reasoning concerning other people’s thoughts in schizophrenia. We predicted social-rule reasoning to be intact in schizophrenia while reasoning about other people’s thoughts would be impaired. Methods: Forty-three patients and 28 healthy controls, matched group-wise on years of age, gender-ratio and NART-estimated IQ, completed the Social Judgment Task and verbal and non-verbal tests of ToM. On the Social Judgment Task participants judged whether actions described in story vignettes were normal or unusual in the circumstances. These actions could be appropriate according to social norms, violations of social norms or socially inappropriate but understandable if story characters’ thoughts were taken into account. Results: Patients performed more poorly than controls on the verbal and the non-verbal ToM tasks. On the Social Judgment Task, the patients’ reasoning about social norms did not differ significantly fromthat of the controls, while the patients took less account of the story characters’ thoughts. These latter difficulties in the patients were associated with their performance deficits on the ToM tasks. Conclusions: Knowledge and reasoning concerning social norms is generally intact in schizophrenia while social cognition, in particular ToM, is impaired.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)A449
    Number of pages1
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
    Issue numberSuppl. 2
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    EventWorld Psychiatric Association International Congress - Melbourne
    Duration: 28 Nov 20072 Dec 2007


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