Effects of Social Context on Social Judgments in People with Schizophrenia
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It is well established that people with schizophrenia experience deficits in social cognition but much less is known about the effects of social contextual information on social judgments. Deficits in understanding social contexts could contribute to socially inappropriate behavior. In the current study, we assessed whether individuals with schizophrenia differed from healthy controls in their use of social contextual information when making social judgments. A total of 24 healthy control participants and 25 clinically stable individuals with schizophrenia played a computer-based game which manipulated social context (team member versus opponent) and emotional expression (smile versus frown). After each trial, participants received feedback from a member of their own team or the other team, with either a smile or a frown depending on their performance. Participants were exposed to all conditions an equal number of times. At the end of the game, participants were shown pictures of members on both teams with neutral expressions and were asked to indicate how much they liked each person. Results suggest that both healthy control participants and individuals with schizophrenia preferred happy team members to angry team members and both groups were able to distinguish between team members and opponents as well as happy and angry faces. However, the strategy for arriving at social judgments appeared to be different for the two groups. Healthy controls appeared to integrate information about affective expression and team membership, resulting in a strong preference for smiling team members in comparison to all other types of individuals. In contrast, individuals with schizophrenia preferred team members to opponents, and happy faces in comparison to angry faces, but did not appear to integrate the information from the two factors. These results suggest that individuals with schizophrenia had difficulty integrating two pertinent pieces of information to form social judgments despite rating partners similarly to healthy controls.
SubjectSocial Context, Schizophrenia