Deficits in social cognition are a core feature among individuals with schizophrenia and key determinants of functional outcome (Couture et al., 2006
; Fett et al., 2011
; Mancuso et al., 2011
). One critical area of social cognition is emotion processing, also called emotional intelligence, which involves the ability to process emotions in one’s self and others to guide thinking and behavior (Mayer et al., 2008
). There are few standardized and well-normed measures of emotional intelligence, and probably the most-established is the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT).
Factor-analytic studies in healthy participants support a 4-factor model of the MSCEIT (referred to as four “branches”): perceiving emotions, facilitating thought, understanding emotions, and managing emotions, each measured by two subtests (Mayer et al., 1997
; Mayer et al., 2003
). One branch of the MSCEIT, managing emotions, was evaluated and selected by the National Institute of Mental Health Initiative, Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS), (Green et al., 2005
) as the representative test for social cognition in clinical trials (Nuechterlein et al., 2008
). In addition to the four-factor solution, the MSCEIT yields a two factor solution consisting of an experiential (emotion perception and facilitation) and strategic (emotion understanding and management) factor for healthy controls (Mayer et al., 2003
It is useful to know if the structure emotional intelligence changes with illness. The number of separable factors in a broad area like emotional intelligence suggests the number of underlying constructs that account for performance. In psychopathology, this number or pattern of factors could be altered, which may provide clues to underlying dysfunction. Only one previous study examined the factor structure of MSCEIT in schizophrenia (Eack et al., 2010
) and found a two-factor solution that differed both from the four-factor and two-factor (experiential and strategic) solutions seen in a large normative study (Mayer and Salovey, 1997
; Mayer et al., 2003
). The two factors found by Eack et al. included one factor comprised of emotion perception and understanding, and a second factor comprised of emotion facilitation and management. This finding raises the provocative question of whether schizophrenia patients have a different factor structure for emotional intelligence than healthy controls. Confidence in the interpretation is limited because the sample size in Eack et al. was modest for a factor analysis (n = 64) and did not have much ethnic and racial diversity. The aim of the current brief report was to conduct an exploratory factor analysis of the structure of the MSCEIT in a much larger and more diverse sample of schizophrenia outpatients to determine if a similar factor structure to that of Eack et al. or Mayer et al., 2003
would be replicated.