Impairments in Social Cognition, Functioning, and Performance in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders and Bipolar Disorder

Grace Konstantin, BA

McLean Hospital
Impairments in Social Cognition, Functioning, and Performance in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders and Bipolar Disorder

Scientific Abstract

BACKGROUND: Impairments in social cognition and social functioning are hallmark characteristics of psychotic disorders. The degree to which lab-based measures of social cognition or performance predict real-world social functioning is unclear, however. Findings suggest that people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SZ) exhibit more impairments across social cognitive domains compared to people with bipolar disorder (BP). We hypothesized that patients with SZ would perform worse than those with BP, who would, in turn, perform worse than healthy controls (HC) on measures of social cognition, social performance, and social functioning. Additionally, we predicted that lab-based social cognition tasks and real-world social functioning would be positively correlated for each group.

METHODS: 167 patients with SZ (n=83) or BP (n=84) and 54 controls were administered measures of cognition, clinical symptoms, and community functioning in several separate but related studies. Social cognition was measured using the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). Social functioning and performance were measured using the Multnomah Community Ability Scale (MCAS), which can be divided into a social factor and a general functioning factor. Correlations between social cognition, social functioning, and social performance were examined across the sample and by diagnosis.

RESULTS: Both BP patients and SZ patients scored significantly lower than HC on the social functioning and social performance measures (p < 0.05). SZ patients performed worse on a measure of social cognition than BP patients or HC (p < 0.05). Across the total sample, social cognition and social functioning were positively correlated (r = 0.368; p < 0.05). By diagnosis, moderate correlations were observed in the SZ group (r = 0.335), with small to medium correlations in the BP group (r = 0.271) and small correlations in the HC group (r = 0.103).

CONCLUSION: All hypotheses were founded by correlational analyses. Findings indicate that social cognition and real-world social functioning, as assessed by laboratory measures, are positively correlated but only moderately.

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research Areas


Grace E. Konstantin, BA

Principal Investigator

Kathryn E. Lewandowski, PhD