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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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26. Cognitive and Affective Theory of Mind in Schizotypy

While there is substantial evidence that patients with schizophrenia have deficits in their ability to make inferences about others’ mental states, otherwise known as theory of mind (ToM), the findings in schizotypy are mixed. In an effort to better understand the mixed findings, the current study differentiated between cognitive/affective ToM and overmentalization/undermentalization errors. The current study used a three-group design (positive schizotypy, negative affect psychiatric control group, and healthy control group), to assess ToM performance on the Movie for Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC; Dziobek et al. 2006); recommendations by Vaskinn, Andersson, Østefjells, Andreassen, and Sundet (2018) were used to categorize cognitive (thought/intentions) and affective MASC items. Results demonstrated that the schizotypy group made greater overmentalization errors about others’ intentions than both control groups. Both the schizotypy and negative affect groups made greater overmentalization errors about others’ emotions than the healthy control group. There were no group differences for overmentalization errors about others’ thoughts. No group differences emerged for undermentalization errors. Additionally, we explored the relationship between different aspects of ToM and schizotypal features. Results demonstrated a significant relationship between emotion overmentalization and interpersonal schizotypal features, intent overmentalization and cognitive-perceptual schizotypal features, and thought overmentalization and disorganized schizotypal features. Undermentalization errors were not significantly related to schizotypal features. These findings highlight the need for additional research that captures the complex nature of ToM deficits in schizotypy, including studies that differentiate between error types and cognitive/affective ToM.

Heather Wastler
Binghamton University

Mark Lenzenweger
Binghamton University

 


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