Socially Learned Attitude Change is not reduced in Medicated patients with schizophrenia

Article by IMC researchers published in Springer Nature Scientific Reports

2019.02.01 | Anne-Mette Pedersen


Schizophrenia is often associated with distinctive or odd social behaviours. Previous work suggests this could be due to a general reduction in conformity; however, this work only assessed the tendency to publicly agree with others, which may involve a number of different mechanisms. In this study, we specifically investigated whether patients display a reduced tendency to adopt other people’s opinions (socially learned attitude change). We administered a computerized conformity task, assumed to rely on reinforcement learning circuits, to 32 patients with schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder and 39 matched controls. Each participant rated 153 faces for trustworthiness. After each rating, they were immediately shown the opinion of a group. After approximately 1 hour, participants were unexpectedly asked to rate all the faces again. We compared the degree of attitude change towards group opinion in patients and controls. Patients presented equal or more social influence on attitudes than controls. This effect may have been medication induced, as increased conformity was seen with higher antipsychotic dose. The results suggest that there is not a general decline in conformity in medicated patients with schizophrenia and that previous findings of reduced conformity are likely related to mechanisms other than reinforcement based social influence on attitudes.