August 31, 2005

Women with Schizophrenia Outperform Men

A new research study suggests that women without schizophrenia are naturally better able to understand facial emotions, and this trend seems to be unaffected when both parties have schizophrenia.

Researchers compared 53 patients with schizophrenia, 28 were men, and 25 were women, on a "facial affect recognition task." 42 mentally healthy controls also participated in the study. Accuracy and sensitivity to the changes in emotional expression were examined as the computer generated faces either had a neutral, positive or negative expression.

Both genders with schizophrenia were at similar levels on positive and negative symptoms, as well as the level of antipsychotic medication that they were taking. Those with schizophrenia performed worse than controls on recognizing facial emotions. Among those with schizophrenia women did much better than the men. They scored at an average accuracy of 63.25% whereas the men scored at 53.68%. This is about a 10% difference between the males and females.

"They add: "Since impairment in emotion processing has been shown to contribute to social dysfunctioning, the deficit in recognition of negative affect in male patients might explain, in part, why they are more impaired in social life than women with this illness" (

It is believed that women may naturally have certain emotional skills that supercede men even when dealing with schizophrenia. The scientists in this study noted that it might be necessary to take these differences into account when making programs that are specifically "to treat deficits in affect perception to the needs of male patients."

Original Source: Women with schizophrenia outperform men in recognizing facial emotions. August 31, 2005.

This study was published in Schizophrenia Research.


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