There is evidence that people with schizophrenia show specific deficits in theory of mind (ToM). However, it is a matter of debate whether these are trait or state dependent, and the nature of the relationship between ToM deficits and particular symptoms is controversial. This study aimed to shed further light on these issues by (1) examining ToM abilities in 61 individuals with chronic schizophrenia during a stable phase as compared with 51 healthy controls matched by gender, age, educational level and current IQ, and (2) exploring the relationship between ToM and symptoms. Second order verbal stories and a non-verbal picture-sequencing task were used as ToM measures. Results showed no differences in ToM performance between patients and controls on either measure. Subsequent subgrouping of patients into remitted and non-remitted showed a worse performance of non-remitted patients only on second order ToM tasks. Specific ToM deficits were found associated with delusions. Association with negative symptoms was found to be less specific and accounted for by illness chronicity and general cognitive impairment. The results from the present study are in line with models which hypothesise that specific ToM deficits in schizophrenia are state dependent and associated with delusions. Such associations may also be task specific. © 2006 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Negative symptoms