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Disorganisation, thought disorder and socio-cognitive functioning in schizophrenia spectrum disorders

  • Paulo de Sousa (a1), William Sellwood (a2), Martin Griffiths (a1) and Richard P. Bentall (a3)



Poor social cognition is prevalent in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Some authors argue that these effects are symptom-specific and that socio-cognitive difficulties (e.g. theory of mind) are strongly associated with thought disorder and symptoms of disorganisation.


The current review tests the strength of this association.


We meta-analysed studies published between 1980 and 2016 that tested the association between social cognition and these symptoms in schizophrenia spectrum disorders.


Our search (PsycINFO, MEDLINE and Web of Science) identified 123 studies (N = 9107). Overall effect size as r = −0.313, indicating a moderate association between symptoms and social cognition. Subanalyses yielded a moderate association between symptoms and theory of mind (r = −0.349) and emotion recognition (r = −0.334), but smaller effect sizes for social perception (r = −0.188), emotion regulation (r = −0.169) and attributional biases (r = −0.143).


The association is interpreted within models of communication that highlight the importance of mentalisation and processing of partner-specific cues in conversational alignment and grounding.

Declaration of interests



Corresponding author

Correspondence: Paulo Sousa, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool, Whelan Building, The Quadrangle, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L69 3GB, UK. Email:


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Disorganisation, thought disorder and socio-cognitive functioning in schizophrenia spectrum disorders

  • Paulo de Sousa (a1), William Sellwood (a2), Martin Griffiths (a1) and Richard P. Bentall (a3)
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