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Schizophrenia Research and Treatment
Volume 2013, Article ID 409205, 13 pages
Research Article

Factor Structure of Social Cognition in Schizophrenia: Is Empathy Preserved?

1Connecticut Mental Health Center, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06508, USA
2Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center, Institute of Living, Hartford Hospital, 200 Retreat Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106, USA
3Division of Neuropsychiatry, Yowa Hospital, 3-5-1 Kamigoto, Yonago, Tottori 6830841, Japan
4VA Connecticut Healthcare System, Psychology Service 116B, VACHS, 950 Campbell Avenue, West Haven, CT 06516, USA

Received 23 July 2013; Revised 20 September 2013; Accepted 9 October 2013

Academic Editor: Hugo Schnack

Copyright © 2013 Silvia Corbera et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Social cognitive impairments are core features of schizophrenia and are closely associated with poor functional outcome. This study sought to identify specific aspects of social cognition and their relationships to measures of social function, quality of life, and neurocognition. Principal component analysis was performed using social cognitive measures in patients with schizophrenia and healthy matched controls and revealed three factors: Interpersonal Discomfort, Basic Social Cognition, and Empathy. Patients had higher scores on Interpersonal Discomfort and lower scores on Basic Social Cognition than controls, but the two groups were the same on Empathy. Lower social performance was significantly correlated with poor Basic Social Cognition in patients and with high Interpersonal Discomfort in controls. While neurocognition was significantly associated with Basic Social Cognition in both groups, it was not associated with Empathy. Social cognitive interventions should emphasize improving basic social cognitive processing deficits, managing Interpersonal Discomfort, and utilizing preserved capacity for empathy as a potential strength in social interactions.