BACKGROUND: Social cognition interventions have shown promise for improving social functioning in people with schizophrenia. However, it is unclear how changes in social cognition affect social functioning. This study evaluates the impact of a social cognition intervention (GRASP - GRoup trAining for Social skills in Psychosis) on social cognition and social functioning outcomes and explores how two mechanisms, affect and physiological arousal, may drive changes.

METHOD: A two-arm single blind (assessor) randomized pilot trial comparing GRASP plus treatment-as-usual (TAU) with TAU alone in people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Participants were assessed with measures of social cognition, social functioning, and symptoms. All participants undertook a week-long mobile health assessment (experience sampling method) measuring social behavior and affect and used a wearable device recording autonomic activity. Assessments were performed at baseline and at week 10.

RESULTS: Forty-eight participants were randomly allocated to the treatment or control condition. Individuals randomized to GRASP did not show improvements on experience sampled social behavior and social cognition measures compared to controls. However, participants in the GRASP group enjoyed social contact more and had lower levels of negative affect and higher levels of positive affect compared to controls. There was no evidence of autonomic changes (i.e., electrodermal activity) associated with social behavior resulting from the therapy.

CONCLUSION: Social cognition interventions may be helpful in improving the quality of social contacts in people with schizophrenia by decreasing negative affect. Increase in social behavior may require longer periods to be evident. Future studies should consider how social cognition interventions may alter qualitative aspects associated with social behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114963
Pages (from-to)114963
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia/complications
  • Social Cognition
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Psychotic Disorders/complications
  • Cognition/physiology


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