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Schizophr Res. 2012 Dec;142(1-3):116-21. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.10.003. Epub 2012 Oct 31.

Emotion recognition in psychosis: no evidence for an association with real world social functioning.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Patients with psychotic disorders show impairments in the recognition of emotions in other people. These impairments have been associated with poor social functioning as measured by self-report questionnaires, clinical interviews and laboratory-based tests of social skills. The ecological validity of these tests, however, is low. Associations were examined between emotion recognition and daily life social interactions in 50 patients diagnosed with a non-affective psychotic disorder and 67 healthy controls.


All participants were assessed with the Degraded Facial Affect Recognition Task (DFAR), a computer test measuring the recognition of emotional facial expressions. Social functioning in daily life was assessed using the Experience Sampling Method (a random time sampling technique) with focus on measures of social context and appraisal of the social situation.


Groups differed significantly in the recognition of angry faces, whereas no differences existed for other emotions. There were no associations between emotion recognition and social functioning in daily life and there was no evidence for differential associations in patients as compared to controls.


Social functioning, when assessed in an ecologically valid fashion, is not sensitive to variation in the traditional experimental assessment of emotion recognition. Real life measures of functioning should guide research linking the handicaps associated with psychosis to underlying cognitive and emotional dysregulation.

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