Schizophrenics More Likely to Misinterpret Social Cues

the Psychiatry Advisor take:

Those with schizophrenia often misread social cues, which can lead to them having having unpleasant or even paranoid thoughts.

Sukhi Shergill, PhD, of King’s College London, England, and colleagues looked at the behavior of 54 participants, 29 of which had schizophrenia. The participants looked at the body position and gestures of an actor on a silent video clip. Gestures such as scratching an eye or putting a finger on the lips to indicate silence were played.

Although the patients with schizophrenia were able to interpret gestures as well as as healthy subjects, when the gestures were ambiguous, they were more likely to misinterpret the the gestures as directed towards them, the researchers reported in the journal Psychological Medicine.

Te researchers believe believe this could indicate an increased tendency to self-infer these ambiguous social cues or to “hyper-mentalize,” falsely inferring intent in the actions of others.

“Our study offers a basis for psychological interventions aimed at improving gestural interpretation,” Shergill said in a statement. “It could also provide guidance for health professionals and care-givers on how to communicate with patients who have schizophrenia, in order to reduce misinterpretations of non-verbal behavior.”

Schizophrenics More Likely to Misinterpret Social Cues
When facial or body gestures were ambiguous, schizophrenics were more likely to misinterpret the gestures as directed towards them.

People who suffer from schizophrenia often misinterpret social cues, which can lead to unpleasant and often paranoid or persecutory thoughts. A new study provides insight into this misperception.

Researchers believe their findings, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, could foster psychological interventions to assist people with schizophrenia better interpret social cues and perhaps ease related symptoms.

In the study, investigators studied the behavior of 54 participants, including 29 people with schizophrenia, as they viewed the body position and gestures of an actor on a silent video clip. The video included gestures such as putting a finger to the lips to indicate ‘be quiet' or incidental movements such as scratching an eye.

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