The Association BetweenMentalizing and Psychopathology: AMeta-Analysis of the Reading theMind in the Eyes Task Across Psychiatric Disorders

Benjamin N. Johnson, Yogev Kivity, Lia K. Rosenstein, James M. LeBreton, Kenneth N. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task (RMET) is commonly used to assess mentalizing, the capacity to make inferences about mental states. The RMET has been used to examine mentalizing across mental health disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and schizotypal, borderline, and narcissistic personality disorders. In this meta-analysis, we examine differences in within-disorder associations between mentalizing and clinical correlates as a function of diagnosis to determine the strength of the relationship between mentalizing and dysfunction within these conditions. We analyzed 414 effect sizes from 54 studies including 12 different diagnostic groups. As expected, we found significant associations between total RMET score and clinical correlates in bipolar (r = -.32), psychosis (r = -.30), substance use disorders (r = -.25), autism spectrum disorder (r = -.21), and borderline personality disorder (r = -.21), though not in antisocial personality disorder (r = -.14). The average effect size among putative disorders of mentalizing (r = -.27) exceeded that of other disorders (r = -.09). Our findings suggest mentalizing deficits are implicated in the psychological functioning a range of psychiatric disorders, such as psychosis, autism, and borderline personality disorder. Our results also support using the RMET to predict important clinical manifestation among samples with these diagnostic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-439
Number of pages17
JournalClinical Psychology: Science and Practice
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 10 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Psychological Association

Funding

This research was sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) and was accomplished under Grant W911NF-16-1-0484. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) or the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Government purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation herein

FundersFunder number
Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social SciencesW911NF-16-1-0484

    Keywords

    • Mentalization
    • Meta-analysis
    • Reflective function
    • Systematic review
    • Theory of mind

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