Successful social interactions rely on the ability to make accurate judgments based on social cues as well as the ability to control the influence of internal or external affective information on those judgments. Prior research suggests that individuals with schizophrenia misinterpret social stimuli and this misinterpretation contributes to impaired social functioning. We tested the hypothesis that for people with schizophrenia, social judgments are abnormally influenced by affective information. Twenty-three patients with schizophrenia and 35 healthy control participants rated the trustworthiness of faces following the presentation of neutral, negative (threat-related), or positive affective primes. Results showed that all participants rated faces following negative affective primes as less trustworthy than faces following neutral or positive primes. Importantly, this effect was significantly more pronounced for participants with schizophrenia, suggesting that schizophrenia may be characterized by an exaggerated influence of negative affective information on social judgment. Furthermore, the extent that the negative affective prime influenced trustworthiness judgments was significantly associated with patients' severity of positive symptoms, particularly feelings of persecution. These findings suggest that for people with schizophrenia, negative affective information contributes to an interpretive bias, consistent with paranoid ideation, when judging the trustworthiness of others. This bias may contribute to social impairments in schizophrenia.
- Person perception
- Social cognition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)