Social cognitive impairments in individuals with schizophrenia vary in severity

Michal Hajdúk, Philip D. Harvey, David L. Penn, Amy E. Pinkham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Social cognitive deficits are a hallmark feature of schizophrenia and have been confirmed by several meta-analyses; however, the uniformity of these impairments across individuals remains unknown. The present study evaluated the heterogeneity of social cognitive impairment. A secondary aim was to identify a subset of measures to quickly identify those individuals who are most in need of remediation. Two independent samples of people with schizophrenia (n = 176; n = 178) and their respective healthy control groups (n = 104; n = 154) were selected from two phases of the Social Cognition Psychometric Evaluation (SCOPE) project, which assessed multiple domains of social cognition. Latent profile analysis was utilized to identify sub-clusters of performance within each patient sample. Receiver operator curve and discriminant analysis were implemented to identify tasks suitable as screening tools. Three clusters were identified in each sample that differed primarily in severity of impairment. The first showed no social cognitive impairment (∼25% of patients). The second consisted of patients with mild impairment (∼40% of each sample), and the third showed severe SC impairment (∼32%). Patients in the severe cluster were older, less educated, more neurocognitively impaired, and lower functioning. Using the Bell Lysaker Emotion Recognition Task (BLERT) for screening provided sensitivity of 80.15% and specificity 89.13%. Combining BLERT with the Reading the Mind in the Eyes task yielded sensitivity of 91.60% and specificity 75.00% for identifying impaired individuals. These results illustrate the existence of distinct degrees of social cognitive impairment in schizophrenia and indicate that remediation efforts may not be necessary for all individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Sep 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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