Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor William D. Spaulding. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2010
Copyright 2010 Petra Kleinlein


The role of social cognition in severe mental illness (SMI) has gained much attention, especially over the last decade. The impact of deficits in socio-cognitive functioning has been found to have detrimental effects on key areas of day-to-day functioning in individuals with SMI, such as gaining and maintaining employment and overall experienced quality of life. Treatment of individuals with SMI is challenging, as the presentation of individual signs and symptoms is rather heterogeneous. There are several treatment approaches addressing deficits ranging from broader social and interpersonal functioning to neurocognitive and more intrapersonal functioning. As research in the domain of social cognition continues to identify specific deficits and its functional detriments, treatment options need to evolve to better target identified functional deficits. Social Cognition and Interaction Training (SCIT) was recently developed to address specific socio-cognitive deficits in an inpatient population of individuals with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. This study applied SCIT in an outpatient SMI population as many deficits remain after individuals’ symptoms are less severe and overall functioning is more stable than during the acute inpatient phase of their rehabilitation. Specifically, this study has two objectives. First, to demonstrate that deficits in social cognition persist after the acute phase of illness has abated. Second, to demonstrate that these deficits can be ameliorated via targeted treatment such as SCIT. Data was gathered in local outpatient treatment settings serving a heterogeneous SMI population.

Adviser: William D. Spaulding