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Social skills


Social skills

Social skill is any skill facilitating interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. The process of learning these skills is called socialization.

Interpersonal skills are sometimes also referred to as people skills or communication skills.[1] Interpersonal skills are the skills a person uses to communicate and interact with others. They include persuasion, active listening,[2] delegation, and leadership.

The term "interpersonal skills" is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person's ability to operate within business organizations through social communication and interactions. Interpersonal skills are how people relate to one another.

Social psychology is an academic discipline that does research related to social skills or interpersonal skills. The discipline studies how skills are learned by an individual through changes in attitude, thinking, and behavior.


  • Causes of deficits 1
    • Alcohol 1.1
    • ADHD and Hyperkinetic disorder 1.2
    • Autism 1.3
    • Depression 1.4
    • Technology use 1.5
  • Psychopathy in the workplace 2
  • In behavior therapy 3
  • Controversies 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Causes of deficits


Social skills are significantly impaired in people suffering from alcoholism due to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol on the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex area of the brain. The social skills that are impaired by alcohol abuse include impairments in perceiving facial emotions, prosody perception problems and theory of mind deficits; the ability to understand humour is also impaired in alcohol abusers.[3] Impairments in social skills also occur in individuals who suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; these deficits persist throughout affected people's lives and may worsen over time due to the effects of ageing on the brain.[4]

ADHD and Hyperkinetic disorder

People with ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder[5] (a more severe form of ADHD) more often have difficulties with social skills, such as social interaction and forming and maintaining friendships. Approximately half of ADHD children and adolescents will experience peer rejection compared to 10-15 percent of non-ADHD youth. Adolescents with ADHD are less likely to develop close friendships, although it might be easier by the time adolescents age into adulthood and enter the workplace. Difficulties in sustaining romantic relationships may also occur in high school and college aged individuals with ADHD. Training in social skills, behavioural modification and medication may have some limited beneficial effects; the most important factor in reducing emergence of later psychopathology is the ADHD individual forming friendships with people who are not involved in deviant/delinquent activities. Poor peer relationships can contribute to major depression, criminality, school failure, and substance use disorders.[6] Adolescents with ADHD are more likely to find it difficult in making and keeping friends due to their attention deficits causing impairments in processing verbal and nonverbal language which is important for social skills and adolescent interaction; this may result in such adolescents being regarded by their peers as immature or as social outcasts.[7] Romantic relationships are usually difficult in the adolescent and college age because of the lack of attention of non verbal cues such as flirting gestures, tone of voice, which may include misinterpretation if whether the person is romantically attracted to that person, along with the impulsiveness of "jumping into" relationships.


As a rule, people with autistic spectrum disorders such as Asperger's syndrome have a deficit within social skills. This is most likely the result of the lack of theory of mind, which enables the person to understand other people's emotions. Many people in the spectrum have many social idiosyncrasies such as obsessive interests and routines, lack of eye contact, one sided conversations, abnormal body language and non-verbal communication.


Individuals with few opportunities to socialize with others often struggle with social skills. This can often create a downward spiral for people with conditions like depression. Due to their depression, they avoid opportunities to socialize, which impairs their social skills, which makes socialization even more unattractive.[8]

Technology use

It has been shown that people who actively use technology have a harder time putting themselves into social situations and thriving. "Cell phones, computers, social networks, and even gaming consoles allow us to communicate without ever physically seeing the person we’re communicating with." (Costley)[9]

Psychopathy in the workplace

The authors of the book

  • National Association of School Psychologists on Social Skills

External links

  1. ^ "What are Interpersonal Skills?". SkillsYouNeed. Retrieved October 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Three Different Levels of Listening". Retrieved June 30, 2010. 
  3. ^ Uekermann J, Daum I (May 2008). "Social cognition in alcoholism: a link to prefrontal cortex dysfunction?". Addiction 103 (5): 726–35.  
  4. ^ Kully-Martens, K.; Denys, K.; Treit, S.; Tamana, S.; Rasmussen, C. (Apr 2012). "A review of social skills deficits in individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and prenatal alcohol exposure: profiles, mechanisms, and interventions.". Alcohol Clin Exp Res 36 (4): 568–76.  
  5. ^ Banaschewski, Tobias; Rohde, Louis (2009). "Phenomenology". In Banaschewski, Tobias; Coghill, David; Danckaerts, Marina. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Hyperkinetic Disorder. Oxford, UK: OUP. pp. 3—18.  
  6. ^ Mikami AY (June 2010). "The importance of friendship for youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder". Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 13 (2): 181–98.  
  7. ^ Coleman WL (August 2008). "Social competence and friendship formation in adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder". Adolesc Med State Art Rev 19 (2): 278–99, x.  
  8. ^ "Depression, Social Skills are Linked". University of Arizona. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  9. ^ Costley, Hunter. "Is Technology Taking Over?". 
  10. ^ Baibak, P; Hare, R. D Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (2007)
  11. ^ Schneider, B.H. & Byrne, B.M. (1985). Children's social skills training: A meta-analysis. In B.H. Schneider, K. Rubin, & J.E. Ledingham (Eds.) Children's Peer relations: Issues in assessment and intervention (pp. 175-190). New York: Springer-Verlag.
  12. ^ a b O’Donohue, W. (2003). Psychological Skills Training: Issues and Controversies. The Behavior Analyst Today, 4 (3), 331 -335 BAO.
  13. ^ Jane Ellen Smith, Jaime L. Milford, and Robert J. Meyers (2004): CRA and CRAFT: Behavioral Approaches to Treating Substance-Abusing Individuals – The Behavior Analyst Today, 5.(4), Page 391 -404 [1]
  14. ^ Sampl, S. Wakai, S., Trestman, R. and Keeney, E.M. (2008). Functional Analysis of Behavior in Corrections: Empowering Inmates in Skills Training Groups. Journal of Behavior Analysis of Offender and Victim: Treatment and Prevention, 1(4), 42-51 [2]
  15. ^ Jonathan W. Kanter, Joseph D. Cautilli, Andrew M. Busch, and David E. Baruch (2005): Toward a Comprehensive Functional Analysis of Depressive Behavior: Five Environmental Factors and a Possible Sixth and Seventh. The Behavior Analyst Today, 6(1), 65-81. [3]
  16. ^ Gillis, J.M. & Butler, R.C. (2007). Social skills interventions for preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A description of single – subject design studies. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention, 4(3), 532-548. [4]
  17. ^ Sébastien Bosch and Michael D. Hixson (2004). The Final Piece to a Complete Science of Behavior: Behavior Development and Behavioral Cusps. The Behavior Analyst Today, 5(3), 244–54 [5]
  18. ^ O’Donohue, W., & Krasner, L. (1995). Psychological skills training. In W. O’Donohue & L. Krasner (Eds.), Handbook of psychological skills training: Clinical techniques and applications (pp. 1-19). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
  19. ^ Raymond G. Romanczyk, Sara White, and Jennifer M. Gillis (2005): Social Skills Versus Skilled Social Behavior: A Problematic Distinction in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention 2 (3), Pg. 177- 194 [6]


See also

The concept of social skills has been questioned.[19] The question is whether one response is needed or whether any response tailored in a context will meet the requirements. Romanczyk laid out a model of social acquisition for children with autism.


"Social skills can be measured on about how you treat other people and how you react to them. It's a matter of dealing with the people around you. Different tests will help you to provide and tell what kind of personality you have towards others. If you are in doubt of your behavior, then you may be in touched with this kind of test. This would not help you totally, but this would serve as your guide in handling your personality towards the people whom you're reacting with." (Ledesma, 2009)

To behaviorists, social skills are learned behavior that allow people to achieve social reinforcement. According to Schneider & Byrne (1985), who conducted a meta-analysis of social skills training procedures (51 studies), operant conditioning procedures for training social skills had the largest effect size, followed by modeling, coaching, and social cognitive techniques.[11] Behavior analysts prefer to use the term behavioral skills to social skills.[12] Behavioral skills training to build social and other skills is used with a variety of populations including in packages to treat addictions as in the community reinforcement approach and family training (CRAFT).[13] Training of behavioral skills is also used for people who suffer from borderline personality disorder,[14] depression,[15] and developmental disabilities.[12][16] Typically behaviorists try to develop what are considered cusp skills,[17] which are critical skills to open access to a variety of environments. The rationale for this type of an approach to treatment is that people meet a variety of social problems and can reduce the stress and punishment from the encounter as well as increase their reinforcement by having the correct skills.[18]

In behavior therapy


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