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Open AccessArticle

A Short Empathy Paradigm to Assess Empathic Deficits in Schizophrenia

Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany
Jülich Aachen Research Alliance—BRAIN Institute I: Brain Structure–Function Relationships: Decoding the Human Brain at Systemic Levels, Research Center Jülich GmbH and RWTH Aachen University, Wilhelm-Johnen-Strasse, 52425 Jülich, Germany
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical School, University of Tübingen, Calwerstrasse 14, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Behav. Sci. 2020, 10(2), 41;
Received: 5 December 2019 / Revised: 20 January 2020 / Accepted: 21 January 2020 / Published: 24 January 2020
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: affective responsiveness; emotion recognition; empathy; perspective taking; psychopathology; schizophrenia affective responsiveness; emotion recognition; empathy; perspective taking; psychopathology; schizophrenia
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Peveretou, F.; Radke, S.; Derntl, B.; Habel, U. A Short Empathy Paradigm to Assess Empathic Deficits in Schizophrenia. Behav. Sci. 2020, 10, 41.

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