Cone of Gaze in Positive Schizotypy: Relationship to Referential Thinking and Social Functioning

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Abstract

Eye contact is an essential means of nonverbal communication, providing information about attention, emotion, mental state, facial expressions, and identity/gender (Itier & Batty, 2009). Although studies suggest that patients with schizophrenia endorse direct gaze more often than controls in ambiguous gaze circumstances, gaze perception in schizotypy remains unstudied. This study investigated whether individuals with positive schizotypic features incorrectly perceive that others are looking at them and whether this is related to referential thinking and psychosocial functioning. Schizotypic individuals (n = 33) and controls (n = 29) completed a newly developed measure of gaze perception, a cone of gaze task (Gamer & Hecht, 2007). Results reveal that individuals in the schizotypy group report feeling as though they are being looked at across a wider range of angles than controls. Consistent with our hypotheses, this wider cone of gaze is associated with increased referential thinking and poorer psychosocial functioning.

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