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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012 Jan;200(1):26-32. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31823e653b.

Nonverbal behavior during clinical interviews: similarities and dissimilarities among schizophrenia, mania, and depression.

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  • 1Research Department of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry and Psychiatric Preventive Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Preventive Medicine, Ruhr-University of Bochum, LWL University Hospital Bochum, Alexandrinenstrasse 1, Bochum, Germany.


Research has shown that patients with schizophrenia and depression differ from nonclinical subjects in nonverbal behavior. In contrast, there is a paucity of studies addressing differences in nonverbal communication between diagnostic groups and as to what extent nonverbal communication feeds into standard ratings of psychopathology. Twenty-six patients with schizophrenia were compared with 24 patients with affective disorders (13 depressed, 11 manic) regarding their nonverbal behavior using the Ethological Coding System for Interviews. Symptom severity was rated using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. Patients with mania displayed more illustrative gestures than did patients with schizophrenia or depression. Subtler behavioral differences between the groups occurred regarding assertive behaviors and displacement activities suggestive of hostility and motivational conflict, respectively. Distinct correlations between nonverbal communication and psychopathology ratings emerged in all three groups. Patients with schizophrenia, depression, and mania differ in nonverbal behavior. Nonverbal communication seems to be a significant contributor to clinicians' intuitive ratings.

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