Purpose of review: The review summarizes recent results on abnormalities in social cognition in patients with personality disorders that predispose them to develop dysfunctional interaction with others. The review starts with more basic social cognition processes, such as emotion recognition and reactions to social exclusion that are followed by more complex processes such as cognitive and affective empathy.
Recent findings: The deficits in social cognition depend on the particular function that is investigated and is strongly associated with characteristic symptoms of particular personality disorders. Thus, patients with borderline personality disorder are hypersensitive for social threat, they show deficits in cognitive empathy and high emotion contagion, that is, they share emotions of others without properly discriminating between one's own feelings and those of others. Psychopaths are characterized by deficiency in facial fear recognition and emotional empathy similar to patients with narcissistic personality disorder. Studies on social cognition in cluster A and C personality disorders are sparse.
Summary: Research indicates deficits in social cognition in patients with personality disorders, but more research is needed to investigate social cognition in cluster A and C personality disorders and to compare deficits in social cognitive functions across personality disorders.