Social cognitive training for schizophrenia: a meta-analytic investigation of controlled research

Schizophr Bull. 2012 Sep;38(5):1092-104. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbr036. Epub 2011 Apr 27.


A wealth of evidence has revealed that deficits in social cognitive skills (including facial affect recognition (FAR), social cue perception, Theory of Mind (ToM), and attributional style) are evident in schizophrenia and are linked to a variety of domains of functional outcome. In light of these associations, a growing number of studies have attempted to ameliorate these deficits as a means of improving outcome in the disorder through the use of structured behavioral training. This study used quantitative methods of meta-analysis to assess the efficacy of behavioral training programs designed to improve social cognitive function. A total of 19 studies consisting of 692 clients were aggregated from relevant databases. Outcome measures were organized according to whether they were social cognitive tests proximal to the intervention or whether they represented measures of treatment generalization (symptoms, observer-rated community, and institutional function). With respect to social cognitive measures, weighted effect-size analysis revealed that there were moderate-large effects of social cognitive training procedures on FAR (identification, d = 0.71 and discrimination, d = 1.01) and small-moderate effects of training on ToM (d = 0.46), while effects on social cue perception and attributional style were not significant. For measures of generalization, weighted effect-size analysis revealed that there were moderate-large effect on total symptoms (d = 0.68) and observer-rated community and institutional function (d = 0.78). Effects of social cognitive training programs on positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia were nonsignificant. Moderating variables and implications for future research and treatment development are discussed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Research
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / therapy*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Social Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Social Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Social Perception
  • Theory of Mind
  • Treatment Outcome