Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 1309–1318 | Cite as

Impaired Interpretation of Others’ Behavior is Associated with Difficulties in Recognizing Pragmatic Language in Patients with Schizophrenia

  • Keita Fukuhara
  • Yasuhiro Ogawa
  • Hiroyuki Tanaka
  • Yuma Nagata
  • Saiji Nishida
  • Daisuke Haga
  • Takashi NishikawaEmail author


Much attention has been paid to the pragmatic language function in schizophrenia. This study of Japanese patients with schizophrenia examined the relationship between impaired interpretation of the behaviors of other people in social contexts and the ability to recognize metaphor and irony. We assessed 34 patients with schizophrenia and 34 normal subjects using first- and second-order theory of mind tasks, the Metaphor and Sarcasm Scenario Test, and the Dewey Story Test (which tests the ability to judge others’ social behaviors). We compared the performance between the groups and analyzed correlations between the tasks. All tasks revealed significant deficits in the patients compared with the controls. In the patient group, metaphor comprehension was correlated with the ability to judge normal behaviors, and irony comprehension was correlated with the ability to judge abnormal behaviors, suggesting that deficits of social cognition in schizophrenia include these two types of factors associated with pragmatic language.


Irony Metaphor Schizophrenia Social behavior Theory of mind 



We thank Dr. Yutaka Sawa (Hokutokai Sawa Hospital), Mr. Goro Nishio (Work Box Daito) and the many medical staff members of Mikiwakai Orange Hospital for their help. This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research [(c) 22500470] from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All participants have provided their written informed consent. This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Graduate School of Comprehensive Rehabilitation, Osaka Prefecture University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical RehabilitationOsaka Prefecture University Graduate School of Comprehensive RehabilitationHabikino-CityJapan
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatric Day CareMikiwakai Orange HospitalOsakaJapan
  3. 3.Day Care CenterHokutokai Sawa HospitalOsakaJapan

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