Virtual Reality (VR) approaches have had considerable success in measurement of functional capacity. However, it is not clear if factors other than cognitive impairment influence performance on VR measures. Many people with schizophrenia have significant negative symptoms and they could reduce engagement in assessment. 158 patients with schizophrenia performed the VRFCAT, were tested with the MCCB, were rated with the PANSS, and were rated on everyday functioning. Scores for reduced emotional experience and reduced expression were derived. Reduced emotional experience, but not reduced expression, was correlated with socially relevant VRFCAT subtasks and real-world social functioning. Performance on the socially relevant subtasks, but not the solitary subtasks, shared variance with work outcomes. MCCB performance was associated with both subdomains, but socially relevant subtasks shared more variance. Patients with higher reduced emotional experience validly engaged in socially relevant VR simulations, as indexed by correlations with outcome measures. These patients had poorer performance on socially relevant tasks than on solitary tasks. The differential validity of solitary vs. socially relevant simulations was supported by differences in correlates, suggesting that assessments with a focus on performance of simulated socially relevant tasks could be developed.
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