Perception and Understanding Features of Social Interaction Processing in Depressive Disorders



In this work results of the investigation directed on exploring specific patterns of social interaction understanding in depressive patients are presented. The comparison of cognitive activity between depressed individuals (N = 25) and healthy individuals (N = 28) took place. The experimental sample included persons with normal intelligence, depressive symptoms and the absence of a psychotic state. All recipients were matched by sex and education level. By means of contactless eye-movement registration system (Eye Tracking Technology), an eye movements activity of both samples during the watching of short films with social interaction scenes was measured. Besides, verbal responses about a plot of the viewed video were estimated. It revealed that patients show disturbances in the social interaction understanding during the visual perception of social scenes. It was manifested in different from healthy sample eye movement schemata and incomplete and distorted verbal responses about characters behavior in communicative situations. Based on these results the model of social perception was built. It detects three main cognitive processes during the perception of social situations: communicative scripts recognition, perception coordination with characters of social situation, construction of further actions forecast. For the first time, psychological mechanisms that cause the disturbances of social situations understanding in depressive patients were detected and described. We suppose they do not coordinate their perception with personages of social situations and as a result, do not build adequate forecasts of their further actions. The reasons of this phenomenon still should be investigated, however even at this point these specific features of depressive patients cognitive activity allow to develop new diagnostic instruments and strategies of psychological intervention.

General Information

Keywords: social cognition, social interaction, Theory of Mind, nonverbal communication, depression, visual perception, eye movements, categorization

Journal rubric: Empirical and Experimental Research

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Popova D.A. Perception and Understanding Features of Social Interaction Processing in Depressive Disorders. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2019. Vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 77–91. DOI: 10.21638/spbu16.2019.106. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


Pugovkina O. D. Narushenie sotsial’nogo poznaniia pri depressii: teoreticheskie podkhody, metody izucheniia i vydelennye defitsity [Social cognition in depression: theoretical approaches and distinguished deficits]. Konsul’tativnaia psikhologiia i psikhoterapiia [Consultation psychology and psychotherapy], 2014, no. 4, pp. 80–97. (In Russian)

Information About the Authors

Darya A. Popova, Student, Department of Medical Psychology and Psychophysiology, Faculty of Psychology, Saint-Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia, e-mail:



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