Empathy is important for successful social interaction and maintaining relationships. Several studies detected impairments in empathic abilities in schizophrenia, with some even indicating a broader deficit in several components, including emotion recognition, perspective taking, and affective responsiveness. The aim of our study was to validate a short version of the previous empathy paradigm as a reliable and easily applicable method to assess empathic deficits in patients with schizophrenia potentially within clinical routine. To do so, we applied the short version to 30 patients (14 females) diagnosed with schizophrenia meeting the DSM-5 criteria and 30 well-matched healthy controls (14 females). The data analysis indicates a significant empathic deficit in patients due to worse performance in all three domains. We managed to replicate most of the findings of our previous study. In contrary to the previous study, significant correlations between performance in the empathy tasks and psychopathology occurred: the severity of negative symptoms was negatively associated with performance in the emotion recognition task and the affective responsiveness task. Gender did not significantly affect performance in the empathy tasks. Regarding the results, our short empathy paradigm appears to be a valid method in assessing empathic impairments in schizophrenia that may be useful in clinical routine.
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