The valuation of social rewards in schizophrenia.

Social impairment in schizophrenia is often thought to reflect poor social cognition. Here we examine responses to social rewards, an aspect of social functioning that is not featured prominently in the literature. The goal of this experiment was to explore whether people with schizophrenia (a) undervalue social rewards, and (b) whether the undervaluation of social rewards was related to motivation and pleasure deficits in schizophrenia and decreased social functioning. People with schizophrenia and healthy participants completed a game (Shore & Heerey, 2011) to explore preferences for different types of social (polite and genuine smiles) and nonsocial (monetary) rewards from computerized opponents. Preferences for reward types were quantified for each participant based on choice behavior during the game. Participants also completed a smile discrimination task to assess their ability to discriminate these types of smiles. Analyses revealed that people with schizophrenia (N = 41) treated genuine smiles as significantly less rewarding than did healthy participants (N = 29), despite showing a similar preference for monetary rewards. The undervaluation of social rewards was not related to the ability to discriminate between the smiles. The current findings provide preliminary evidence of reduced social reward valuation among individuals with schizophrenia, which may have implications for behavior in face-to-face social interactions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)