B508 - Social cognition and PLIKS - 29/05/2007

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Dr Lucy Thompson (University of Bristol, UK)
Prof Glyn Lewis (University of Bristol, UK), Prof Glynn Harrison (University of Bristol, UK)
Title of project: 
Social cognition and PLIKS
Proposal summary: 


1. Investigate the association between measures of social cognition and social functioning in the children and PLIKS and whether a particular measure of social cognition is particularly associated with PLIKS

2. Investigate the relationship between social cognition in the parents and these same measures in the children

3. Investigate the relationship between measures of social functioning and PLIKS and how this progresses over time

Social cognition has been the focus of much recent interest and is has been defined by social psychologists as a domain of cognition that involves the perception, interpretation and processing of social information (Ostrum, 1984). Social cognition involves stimuli which are more complex and labile than non- social stimuli. To process a social stimulus, the perceiver must draw upon a larger body of stored information (knowledge, attitudes, biases etc). Furthermore, the relationship between the perceiver and the stimulus is usually interactive. The definition can be broad and a number of abilities such as emotion perception, social perception, social knowledge and attributional bias are included (Brune, 2005). Theory of mind, the cognitive capacity to represent one's own and another person's mental states for instance, in terms of thinking, believing or pretending has also been classified as a social cognitive ability.

There is a great deal of cross-sectional data that finds that people with schizophrenia are much more likely to have deficits in social cognition. However, there are very few longitudinal studies that have been able to investigate such an association. The psychotic like symptoms (PLIKS) measures in ALSPAC provide an opportunity to investigate social cognition in relation to this intermediate outcome.

We propose to use the following measures of social cognition available in ALSPAC:

Emotion recognition - the Diagnostic Analysis of Non Verbal Accuracy (DANVA-2-CF), a test of the recognition of facial emotions through the presentation of photographs of 24 children's facial expressions (12 female and 12 male participants showing an equal number of high and low intensity, happy, sad, angry and fearful faces) (Nowicki & Carton, 1993; Nowicki & Duke, 1994) was completed by the child at aged 8. The test was also completed by the childs parents

Theory of mind/Emotion attribution - A computerized test designed by Blakemore and colleagues (Boraston et al, 2006) was completed by the child aged 13 and the parent. The task consisted of series of short (5s) animations. These featured an "emotional" triangle, interacting with a circle. They were designed to evoke an attribution of emotion to the triangle, which was rated in terms of anger, happiness, sadness or fear from its pattern of movement and how animate ("living") it appeared to be.

Although classical measures of social functioning such as employment fail to apply to this age group, measures of social behaviour are also available in the cohort. These include:

Social communication - the Social and Communication Disorders Checklist (SCDC) (Skuse & Scourfield, 2005) has 12 questions measuring social communication and was completed by the parent with regard to the child at age 8

Social functioning - the number and satisfaction with friends (child rated) and teacher ratings of social interaction at school (available at age 8, 10 and 11).

Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 29 May, 2007
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 29 May, 2007
Depression, Mental Health
Primary keyword: