Social cognition and metacognition in schizophrenia: evidence of their independence and linkage with outcomes

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2013 Mar;127(3):239-47. doi: 10.1111/acps.12012. Epub 2012 Sep 11.


Objective: Research suggests that many with schizophrenia experience deficits in the ability to make discrete judgments about the thoughts and feelings of others as well as to form larger integrated representations of themselves and others. Little is known about whether these difficulties may be distinguished from one another and whether they are linked with different outcomes.

Method: We administered three assessments of social cognition which tapped the ability to identify emotions and intentions and two metacognitive tasks which called for the formation of more integrated and flexible representations of the self and others. We additionally assessed symptoms, social functioning and neurocognition. Participants were 95 individuals with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder.

Results: A principle components analysis followed by a varimax rotation revealed two factors which accounted for 62% of the variance. The first factor was comprised of the three social cognition tests and the second of two tasks that tapped the ability to create representations of oneself and others which integrate more discreet information. The first factor was uniquely correlated with negative symptoms, and the second was uniquely correlated with social function.

Conclusion: Results suggest that deficits in social cognition and metacognition represent different forms of dysfunction in schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Principle-Based Ethics
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Schizophrenia / complications
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Behavior*
  • Theory of Mind
  • Thinking