Social cognition and the course of social functioning in first-episode psychosis

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Social functioning deficits greatly affect individuals with psychotic disorders resulting in decreased ability to maintain relationships, jobs and pursuit of educational goals. Deficits in social cognition have been hypothesized to be an important contributor to these deficits in social functioning. In particular, 5 domains of social cognition have been suggested to be relevant in the study of psychotic disorders: (1) attributional style, (2) emotion recognition, (3) social knowledge, (4) social perception and (5) theory of mind. Yet, to date, no study has simultaneously investigated the association between these 5 domains of social cognition and social functioning.


We investigated the cross-section and longitudinal association between social cognition and social functioning among 71 individuals with first-episode psychosis.


We found modest cross-sectional associations between social cognition and social functioning that were often in the unexpected direction (ie, greater social cognition associated with worse social functioning). Social cognition at baseline was not associated with the longitudinal course of social functioning.


These unexpected findings fail to align with previous research that has documented a more robust relationship between these 2 constructs, and raise critical questions with regard to the nature of the association between social cognition and social functioning among individuals with first-episode psychosis.

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