Objectives Both dysfunctional self-appraisal and metacognitive deficits, or impairments in the ability to form complex and integrated ideas about oneself and others, may contribute to social deficits in schizophrenia. Little is known, however, about how they interact with each other. In this study, we examined the hypothesis that both higher metacognition and more positive self-appraisal are necessary for increased social functioning. Methods Concurrent assessments of self-appraisal, metacognition, and social functioning were gathered from 66 adults with schizophrenia in a non-acute phase of disorder. Three forms of self-appraisal were used: self-esteem, hope and self-efficacy. Metacognition was assessed using the Metacognitive Assessment Scale-Abbreviated, and social functioning with the Quality of Life Scale. Measures of psychopathology, neurocognition and social cognition were also gathered for use as potential covariates. Results A single index of self-appraisal was generated from subjecting the assessments of self-appraisal to a principal components analysis. Linear regression analyses revealed that after controlling for severity of psychopathology, metacognition moderated the effect of the self-appraisal factor score upon social functioning. A median split of metacognition and the self-appraisal index yielded four groups. ANCOVA analyses revealed that participants with higher levels of metacognition and more positive self-appraisal had greater capacities for social relatedness than all other participants, regardless of levels of positive and negative symptoms. Correlational analyses revealed that metacognition but not self-appraisal was related to the frequencies of social contact independent of the effects of psychopathology. Assessments of social cognition and neurocognition were not significantly linked with social dysfunction. Conclusion Greater social functioning is made possible by a combination of both more positive self-appraisals and greater metacognitive capacity. Individuals with schizophrenia who struggle to relate to others may benefit from interventions which address both their beliefs about themselves and their capacity for metacognition.
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