Understanding Social Situations (USS): A Proof-of-Concept Social-Cognitive Intervention Targeting Theory of Mind and Attributional Bias in Individuals With Psychosis

Joanna M. Fiszdon, David L. Roberts, David L. Penn, Kee Hong Choi, Cenk Tek, Jimmy Choi, Morris D. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Objectives: In this proof-of-concept trial, we examined the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of Understanding Social Situations (USS), a new social-cognitive intervention that targets higher level social-cognitive skills using methods common to neurocognitive remediation, including drill and practice and hierarchically structured training, which may compensate for the negative effects of cognitive impairment on learning. Method: Thirty-eight individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders completed the same baseline assessment of cognitive and social-cognitive functioning twice over a 1-month period to minimize later practice effects, then received 7-10 sessions of USS training, and then completed the same assessment again at posttreatment. Results: USS training was well tolerated and received high treatment satisfaction ratings. Large improvements on the USS Skills Test, which contained items similar to but not identical to training stimuli, suggest that we were effective in teaching specific training content. Content gains generalized to improvements on some of the social-cognitive tasks, including select measures of attributional bias and theory of mind. Importantly, baseline neurocognition did not impact the amount of learning during USS (as indexed by the USS Skills Test) or the amount of improvement on social-cognitive measures. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: USS shows promise as a treatment for higher level social-cognitive skills. Given the lack of relationship between baseline cognition and treatment effects, it may be particularly appropriate for individuals with lower range cognitive function. (PsycINFO Database Record

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychiatric Rehabilitation Journal
StateAccepted/In press - Jun 9 2016



  • Cognition
  • Cognitive remediation
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social cognition
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)

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