Social competence versus negative symptoms as predictors of real world social functioning in schizophrenia

Belinda R. Robertson, Davide Prestia, Elizabeth W. Twamley, Thomas L. Patterson, Christopher R. Bowie, Philip D. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Deficits in real world social functioning are common in people with schizophrenia and the treatment of social skills deficits has been a long-time treatment strategy. However, negative (i.e., deficit) symptoms also appear to contribute to real-world social dysfunction. In this study, we combined data from three separate studies of people with schizophrenia (total n. = 561) who were assessed with identical methods. We examined the prediction of real-world social functioning, rated by high contact clinicians, and compared the influence of negative symptoms and social skills measured with performance-based methods on these outcomes. Negative symptom severity accounted for 20% of the variance in real-world social functioning, with social skills adding an incremental 2%. This 2% variance contribution was the same when social skills were forced into a regression model prior to negative symptom severity. When we examined individual negative symptoms, prediction of real-world social functioning increased to 28%, with active and passive social avoidance entering the equation. Adding depression into the predictor model improved the prediction of real-world social functioning significantly, but minimally (4% variance). Social skills contribute to real-world social outcomes, but treating negative symptoms appears to be a possible path for improving real-world social functioning in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-141
Number of pages6
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Negative symptoms
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social competence
  • Social functioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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