Social cognition is a facet of social psychology that is primarily based on how the ability of an individual to perceive, synthesize, store and use information about others in different situations. It encapsulates the overall psychological processes related to perception, understanding, and implementation of visual, auditory, or linguistic cues on interpersonal шinformation when an individual is part of a social group. A version of social cognition enables researchers to study topics on attitudes, Prejudice, personal perception, self-concept, discrimination, and stereotypes. Depression, clinically referred to as major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that causes persistent loss of interest and feelings of sadness. It has an impact on individual actions and their way of thinking and often leads to a variety of physical and emotional problems. This paper is a research on social cognition and depression; it examines the different aspects of the two states and how they are interrelated.
Cognitive abilities refer to the power of an individual to perceive the social agents and effectively interact with them by adequately understanding and implementing information about social situations and other people. Individuals with cognitive deficits are often impaired socially and do not effectively understand emotions and information from their environment. In their publication, Genova et al. (2020) studied the correlation between social cognitive abilities, depressive indicators, and anxiety in persons with multiple sclerosis. They precisely investigate the association between individual social cognitive skills and depressive symptoms, fatigue, and anxiety among individuals with multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system disorder resulting from the damage of white and grey matter, leading to cognitive and physical deficits that limit an individual’s overall functioning. The authors in the publication refer to research by Chiaravalloti & DeLuca (2008), who explained that classic cognitive issues among persons with MS also had significant deficiencies in social cognition. They sought to understand the connection between these mental inabilities and other aspects related to multiple sclerosis.
The publication, therefore, examined depression, fatigue, and anxiety among individuals with multiple sclerosis and how these aspects impact individual comorbid impairments like executive functioning, processing speed, and working memory. They studied 28 participants with varying types of multiple sclerosis, from progressive, secondary progressive, and progressive relapsing. Genova et al. (2020) analyzed the measures of social cognition as well as measures of mood and fatigue through the use of questionnaires. The study results show a correlation between fatigue, anxiety, and depressive symptoms with social cognition. Performance in individual social cognitive abilities was associated with the presence of high depressive symptoms, stress, and fatigue.
The study also showed that there were increased depressive symptoms due to poor performance on facial affect recognition. Therefore, the study asserts the existing conception that individuals with depression have a negative interpretive bias and are less happy than healthier individuals. People with pronounced depressive symptoms also have worse social cognition and perform worse on tasks on social awareness. This study, therefore, accentuates studies on MS-related cognitive dysfunctions. The study, thus, shows that individuals with depression and anxiety symptoms show poor social cognitive ability. Despite the need for further research to clarify the findings, the publication creates an understanding of the interrelation between social cognition and fatigue in individuals with multiple sclerosis.
Depression majorly affects adolescents, but social cognitive approaches that have sought to understand the interpersonal problems that make Adolescents more vulnerable to depression have been limited. In their publication, Mellick, Sharp & Ernst (2015) look into the models of vulnerability to adolescent depression and seek to understand how the dynamics in social changes and behavioral aspects lead to teenage depression. The major depressive disorder commonly emerges during adolescence and affects up to 11% of teenagers. Researchers have explained the interpersonal nature of adolescent depression. Still, the publication by William, Mellick & Carla (2018) takes an interdisciplinary approach to neuroeconomics to understand the different aspects of social decision-making among adolescents with depression.
The study proposes the neuroeconomic approach based on a system of social reward in cases of depression in adolescents as a significant aspect that influences decision-making among them, thus maintaining depression. The neuroeconomic approach is a multiple-level analysis that integrates various social cognition theories to understand adolescent depression effectively. They, therefore, propose a neuroeconomic model that explains the respective social rewards and exchanges which maintain teenage depression. Thus, the study explains tips and social interaction and the multidimensional nature of depression, laying a foundation for future research.
Psychiatric conditions often lead to social cognitive dysfunction, but there has not been clear evidence of the impact of depression on social cognitive performance. Hudson et al. (2018) conducted a research study to understand social cognitive deficits resulting from cognitive dysfunction in major depressive disorders and therefore investigated the correlation between social cognitive performance and executive functioning in adults and adolescents during the limited and current depression as a comparison to healthy controls. Social cognition refers to the ability of an individual to identify socially-relevant information like body language and facial expressions. The study hypothesized that executive function and social cognitive performance are related in patients with depression. The study also aimed at understanding how the relationship between the two aspects is expressed in conditions of major depressive disorder. The study found that acute depression is signified by the relationship between social cognitive functions and the ability to function normally.
They, therefore, suggested that diminished cognitive flexibility makes it difficult to effectively integrate socially relevant stimuli, an aspect that attenuates social cognitive performance in an individual. Results from the study also showed that social cognitive performance and planning ability in young adults and high-functioning adolescents is a compensatory mechanism. The mechanism eventually becomes exhausted, and social cognitive performance deteriorates and resulting in increased severity of depression. A similar study conducted by Forster et al. (2018) also sought to debunk how cognitive dysfunction in depressive disorders led to social and mental defects and tried to investigate how social cognitive performance relates to executive functions in young adults and Adolescents. The study used hierarchical regression models in the different groups to understand the correlation between executive function and cognitive abilities in the individuals. The study found that less cognitive flexibility makes it more difficult for individuals to interpret ambiguous social stimuli effectively.
Psychiatric conditions often understand the evolutionary and genetic aspects of human behavior and cognitive functions. Studies have focused on psychiatric disorders involving human self-reflexive and social cognition and creativity. In their research, Crespi et al. (2016) tried to understand the levels of imagination in individuals with autism and those with psychotic disorders. Autism and psychotic conditions have been seen as having opposite impacts psychologically regarding social cognitive functions. Imagination is the ability to form new ideas and concepts and is a component of human social development in cognitive functions. Studies have related reduced imagination to autism and associated increased levels of individual imagination with psychotic affective conditions. Therefore, the research reviews studies about manifestations, components, and correlates of psychotic affective disorder and autism conditions in individuals. The study found that increased and decreased imaginations may be symptoms of psychiatric disorders, with imagination being a central diametric feature of autism compared to psychotic affective conditions. It, therefore, shows that imagination can be used as a primary for sale in developing the required behavioral and cognitive interventions for autism, bipolar disorder, depression, and even schizophrenia.
Individuals with major depression often have impairments in interpersonal functioning, which is often a risk factor in the maintenance of the disorder. Cognitive dysfunction is further replicated among these patients as they tend to interpret emotions depending on their mood. Zhu, Jiang & Shi (2018) conducted social cognition and interaction training (SCIT) on individuals with major depressive disorders and found that SCIT alleviates depressive symptoms and yields improvements in social awareness among them. SCIT can effectively treat dysfunctional attribution styles in individuals with major depression and reduce depressive symptoms. This intervention is also accepted and well-tolerated among individuals. It is an adjunct intervention suitable for improving the quality of life and workplace & social functioning among depressed people.
Crespi, Bernard, Leach, Emma, Dinsdale, Natalie, Mokkonen, Mikael & Hurd, Peter. (2016). Imagination in human social cognition, autism, and psychotic-affective conditions. Cognition, 150, 181-199. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2016.02.001
Förster, K., Jörgens, S., Air, T. M., Bürger, C., Enneking, V., Redlich, R., … & Baune, B. T. (2018). The relationship between social cognition and executive function in major depressive disorder in high-functioning adolescents and young adults. Psychiatry Research, 263, 139-146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.02.046
Genova, Helen M, Lancaster, Katie, Lengenfelder, Jean, Bober, Christopher P, DeLuca, John & Chiaravalloti, Nancy D. (2020). Relationship between social cognition and fatigue, depressive symptoms, and anxiety in multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neuropsychology, 14, 213-225. https://doi.org/10.1111/jnp.12185
Hudson, C. C., Shamblaw, A. L., Wilson, G. A., Roes, M. M., Sabbagh, M. A., & Harkness, K. L. (2018). Theory of mind, excessive reassurance-seeking, and stress generation in depression: A social-cognitive-interpersonal integration. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 37(9), 725-750. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2018.37.9.725
Mellick, W., Sharp, C., & Ernst, M. (2015). Neuroeconomics for the study of social cognition in adolescent depression. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, 22(3), 255-276.https://doi.org/10.1111/cpsp.12106
Zhu, S., Zhu, K., Jiang, D., & Shi, J. (2018). Social cognition and interaction training for major depression: A preliminary study. Psychiatry Research, 270, 890-894. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.11.