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

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120. Effects of the Hostility Bias on Social Functioning in Potentially Hostile Social Situations

While the link between overall social cognitive ability and performance in social situations is well established, the extent to which social cognitive biases affect functioning are less well known. Here, we investigate the effects that one of these social cognitive biases, the hostility bias, has on an individual’s ability to evaluate and perform in potentially hostile and confrontational social situations. We hypothesize that greater hostility bias will be associated with greater accuracy in detecting sarcastic social situations due to the inherent tendency to suspect ill intent from others that is associated with this bias. In contrast, we predict greater hostility bias will be associated with poorer performance in potentially confrontational social situations due to perceived hostility impairing an individual’s social functioning. We assessed 179 individuals with psychotic disorders and 213 individuals with no psychiatric diagnoses for hostility bias, skill in understanding sarcastic interactions, and performance in confrontational social situations using the Ambiguous Intentions Hostility Questionnaire (AIHQ), The Awareness of Social Inferences Test (TASIT), and Social Skills Performance Assessment (SSPA), respectively. Analyses revealed no significant associations between hostility bias and accuracy in evaluating sarcastic social situations in either patient (r(179)=-0.076, p=0.313) or normative (r(213)=0.032, p=0.648) samples. Likewise, no significant associations between hostility bias and performance in confrontational situations were found in patient (r(179)=0.064, p=0.393) or normative (r(213)=-0.045, p=0.511) samples. These findings suggest only a limited to no influence of bias on the outcome measures and, together with previous research, suggest that social cognitive ability may have a more direct impact on functioning than social cognitive bias.

Ian J. F. Kilpatrick
The University of Texas at Dallas

Hans S. Klein
The University of Texas at Dallas

David L. Penn
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Philip D. Harvey
University of Miami

Amy E. Pinkham
The University of Texas at Dallas


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