Perception of social cues is one of the social cognitive impairments in schizophrenics that prompted research on how differently they perceive the world versus mentally stable individuals. Social cues are signals that people send to others by body movements, facial expressions or through vocal tone. In this case, individuals with schizophrenia may have difficulty creating an appropriate response to these social cues due to their illness.
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Green, Horan, and Lee (2015) stated, Face perception is the most-extensively studied aspect of social cue perception in schizophrenia (p. 621). Determining someone’s identity, sex or age is an example of non-affective face perception, and processing the emotional expressions on the faces of others is an example of affective face perception (621). According to their research, schizophrenic patients have less difficulty determining the sex of an individual but have more difficulty determining an individual’s identity (621). Another social cue that schizophrenics have some difficulty with is voice perception. Voice perception is the process in which someone’s language, pitch, intonation and rhythm (prosody) are heard, interpreted and understood by another person. Affective prosody perception includes tasks of implicit processing such as listening to sentences read with and without emotional intonation, and explicit processing such as making emotional judgements about a sentence read with and without emotional intonation (622). Green, Horan, and Lee summarize their findings and state that patients correctly perceive certain features of non-affective prosody (for example, intonation) but have difficulties with perceiving pitch and rhythm (622).
Moreover, schizophrenia patients from Lublin University Psychiatric Hospital were involved in a clinical study in which they had to take a Facial Emotion Recognition Test and a Voice Emotion Recognition Test. The Facial Emotion Recognition Test consisted of a set of photographs of human emotional faces that were presented on a screen for about 10 seconds each with an interval of 10 seconds between photographs, and participants were provided with a written list of nine emotions that they had to select for each photograph. (Kucharska-Pietura et al., 2005, para. 6). Results showed that patients with schizophrenia showed a greater impairment in their ability to recognize facial emotions compared to healthy controls (para. 14). The Voice Emotion Recognition Test consisted of a series of five sentences that were each spoken aloud and recorded by a professional male actor in a manner that conveyed one of six basic emotions, and participants then had to listen to each sentence and choose which emotion best described the speaker’s tone of voice (para.
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