The relationship between theory of mind, empathy and social functioning in people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia

Starkie, Rose

July 2009

Thesis or dissertation

© 2009 Rose Starkie. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Growing interest in the nature of social cognition in people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia has led to an increase in research investigating the possibility of rehabilitating identified deficits. A model for describing the relationship between different domains of social cognition, based on that of Couture, Penn and Roberts1, is described. This model is then used to define search terms for a systematic literature review, investigating the effectiveness of rehabilitation across different domains, including emotion perception, social perception, theory of mind and attributional style, and social problem solving. Each domain is reviewed separately, allowing comparisons to be drawn between different domains of social cognition. Studies combining different domains of social cognition in their rehabilitation programme are also reviewed. Evidence suggests that rehabilitation in each domain improves performance on measures of that particular social cognitive skill, implying that rehabilitation does have some positive effects. However, research investigating the clinical utility of such rehabilitation (for example the impact on social functioning) is lacking. There is some evidence to suggest that theory of mind rehabilitation and disparate social cognition research may have some clinical utility. In other domains, more research is needed.

Postgraduate Medical Institute, The University of Hull
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