Social cognition and metacognition in obsessive–compulsive disorder: an explorative pilot study

  • Paraskevi Mavrogiorgou
  • Mareike Bethge
  • Stefanie Luksnat
  • Fabio Nalato
  • Georg Juckel
  • Martin BrüneEmail author
Original Paper


Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a severe psychiatric condition that is, among other features, characterized by marked impairment in social functioning. Although theoretically plausible with regard to neurobiological underpinnings of OCD, there is little research about possible impairments in social cognitive and meta-cognitive abilities and their connections with social functioning in patients with OCD. Accordingly, we sought to examine social cognitive skills and metacognition in OCD. Twenty OCD patients and age-, sex-, and education-matched 20 healthy controls were assessed using neurocognitive and diverse social cognitive skills including the Ekman 60 Faces test, the Hinting Task, the faux pas test, and a proverb test. In addition, the Metacognition Questionnaire-30 was administered to both the OCD and the control groups. Social functioning was measured using the Personal and Social Performance Scale. Symptom severity in patients was determined by the Yale–Brown Obsessive–Compulsive Scale and the Maudsley Obsessive–Compulsive Inventory. No group differences emerged in basic social cognitive abilities. In contrast, compared to controls, OCD patients scored higher on all MCQ dimensions, particularly negative beliefs about worry, uncontrollability, and danger; beliefs about need to control thoughts; and cognitive self-consciousness. There were no significant correlations between social or metacognitive parameters and OCD symptom severity. However, in the patient group, depression and metacognition predicted social functioning. OCD patients show normal basal social cognitive abilities, but dysfunctional metacognitive profiles, which may contribute to their psychosocial impairment.


Obsessive–compulsive disorder Social cognition Theory of mind Metacognition 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest with regard to this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paraskevi Mavrogiorgou
    • 1
  • Mareike Bethge
    • 1
  • Stefanie Luksnat
    • 1
  • Fabio Nalato
    • 1
  • Georg Juckel
    • 1
  • Martin Brüne
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry and Psychiatric Preventive Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, LWL-University HospitalRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany

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