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HSR&D Citation Abstract

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Bonfils KA, Haas GL, Salyers MP. Emotion-specific performance across empathy tasks in schizophrenia: Influence of metacognitive capacity. Schizophrenia research. Cognition. 2020 Mar 1; 19:100139.
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Abstract: People with schizophrenia exhibit deficits in emotion recognition that are associated with community and social functioning. Emotion-specific performance within emotion recognition tasks has been investigated, suggesting differential patterns of recognition for positive and negative emotions. However, no study has yet examined emotion-specific performance for a higher-order social cognitive construct such as empathy. This study aimed to: 1) examine emotion-specific performance on an empathy task, and 2) elucidate associations with four metacognitive domains: self-reflectivity, understanding of others' minds, decentration, and mastery. Fifty-seven people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder participated. All were administered a computerized, performance-based measure of empathy and an interview-based measure of metacognitive capacity. Results revealed that, consistent with research on facial affect recognition, participants performed significantly better when recognizing happiness in empathic stimuli than all other emotions. Results also revealed positive associations between empathic performance and metacognitive self-reflectivity, across types of emotions. Other metacognitive domains were also associated with performance, but in a less consistent manner. Together, results indicate that not all emotions are created equal - happiness is easier to recognize for those with schizophrenia, suggesting that social cognitive interventions may be more helpful if focused on recognizing negative emotions. Results also emphasize the importance of metacognitive capacity for basic and higher-order social cognitive skills.

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