Mediator Effects of Cognitive and Affective Empathy on the Relationship Between Schizotypal Symptoms and Social Anxiety/Avoidance Levels


Şandor S.

Neuropsychiatric Investigation, vol.60, no.3, pp.52-63, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 60 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.5152/neuropsychiatricinvest.2022.21004
  • Journal Name: Neuropsychiatric Investigation
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.52-63

Abstract

Objective: This study aims to examine the relationship between the levels of social anxiety and social avoidance as an indicator of social functioning with positive and negative schizotypal symptoms in a nonclinical sample. In addition, the mediating effects of cognitive and affective empathy between these variables will also be examined.

Methods: A sample of 133 men and 214 women participated in the study. Schizotypal symptoms were assessed with Schizotypal Personality Scale, social anxiety and social avoidance levels were assessed with Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale, cognitive empathy was assessed with Reading Mind in The Eyes Test, and affective empathy was assessed with the Pictorial Empathy Test. Pearson correlation analysis was used for testing the significant correlations between the variables and the mediator effects were examined with PROCESS developed by Hayes.

Results: Correlation analysis revealed that all variables were significantly correlated. While cognitive empathy has partial mediator effect between negative schizotypal symptoms and social anxiety and avoidance levels (95% CI = [0.01, 0.11]), affective empathy has full mediator effect on this relationship (95% CI = [0.18, 0.41]). Despite the presence of a predictive effect of positive schizotypal symptoms on social anxiety and avoidance levels, affective and cognitive empathy have no mediator effects between these variables.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that the relationship between negative schizotypy and social anxiety and avoidance as indicators of social functioning is attributable to deficits in social cognitive functions. However, the lack of these mediator effects for positive schizotypy clearly demonstrates that individuals with different schizotypy traits show different profiles of social cognitive abilities and point out the importance of differentiating subtypes of schizotypy both in clinical and experimental settings.