Although social cognition deficits have been associated with schizophrenia, social trait judgments - or first impressions - have rarely been studied. These first impressions, formed immediately after looking at a person's face, have significant social consequences. Eighty-one individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 62 control subjects rated 30 neutral faces on 10 positive or negative traits: attractive, mean, trustworthy, intelligent, dominant, fun, sociable, aggressive, emotionally stable and weird. Compared to controls, patients gave higher ratings for positive traits as well as for negative traits. Patients also demonstrated more ambivalence in their ratings. Patients who were exhibiting paranoid symptoms assigned higher intensity ratings for positive social traits than non-paranoid patients. Social trait ratings were negatively correlated with everyday problem solving skills in patients. Although patients appeared to form impressions of others in a manner similar to controls, they tended to assign higher scores for both positive and negative traits. This may help explain the social deficits observed in schizophrenia: first impressions of higher degree are harder to correct, and ambivalent attitudes may impair the motivation to interact with others. Consistent with research on paranoia and self-esteem, actively-paranoid patients' positive social traits judgments were of higher intensity than non-paranoid patients'.
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