A meta-analysis and scoping review of social cognition performance in social phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders

J Anxiety Disord. 2014 Mar;28(2):169-77. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2013.09.005. Epub 2013 Oct 8.


Social cognition deficits are observed in a variety of psychiatric illnesses. However, data concerning anxiety disorders are sparse and difficult to interpret. This meta-analysis aims at determining if social cognition is affected in social phobia (SP) or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to non-clinical controls and the specificity of such deficits relatively to other anxiety disorders. The scoping review aims to identify research gaps in the field. Forty studies assessing mentalizing, emotion recognition, social perception/knowledge or attributional style in anxiety disorders were included, totalizing 1417 anxious patients and 1321 non-clinical controls. Results indicate distinct patterns of social cognition impairments: people with PTSD show deficits in mentalizing (effect size d = -1.13) and emotion recognition (d = -1.6) while other anxiety disorders including SP showed attributional biases (d = -0.53 to d = -1.15). The scoping review identified several under investigated domains of social cognition in anxiety disorders. Some recommendations are expressed for future studies to explore the full range of social cognition in anxiety disorders and allow direct comparisons between different disorders.

Keywords: Attributional style; Emotion recognition; Mentalizing; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Social cognition; Social phobia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition*
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology*
  • Social Perception*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Theory of Mind