Exploration of irony appreciation in schizophrenia: a replication study on an Italian sample.

Research paper by Paolo P Stratta, Ilaria I Riccardi, Daniela D Mirabilio, Silvia S Di Tommaso, Annerita A Tomassini, Alessandro A Rossi

Indexed on: 28 Apr '07Published on: 28 Apr '07Published in: European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience


Irony is a form of speech used to convey feelings in an indirect way. Patients with schizophrenia demonstrated an impaired irony processing, associated with poor theory-of-mind. We investigated irony appreciation in a sample of 20 subjects with schizophrenic disorder by using cartoon images. The primary aim was to examine the association between Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale (PANSS) scores (i.e. positive, negative and cognitive) and irony visual joke appreciation. The group performed significantly worse in the Theory of Mind (ToM) condition than in the physical one. We report a significant relationship between ToM performances with PANSS positive and cognitive symptoms but not with negative symptom scores. Average humour score significantly correlated with positive symptoms, i.e. more severe symptoms, less funny the cartoon, while the difficulty in understanding the jokes was related to PANSS cognitive cluster score, i.e. more cognitive symptoms, less difficult the ToM jokes. Our results offer evidence for a compromised ToM capability in appreciating visual jokes linked to specific symptomatology.