A transdiagnostic investigation of 'theory of mind' and 'jumping to conclusions' in patients with persecutory delusions

R. Corcoran, G. Rowse, R. Moore, N. Blackwood, P. Kinderman, R. Howard, S. Cummins, R. P. Bentall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A tendency to make hasty decisions on probabilistic reasoning tasks and a difficulty attributing mental states to others are key cognitive features of persecutory delusions (PDs) in the context of schizophrenia. This study examines whether these same psychological anomalies characterize PDs when they present in the context of psychotic depression.

Method: Performance on measures of probabilistic reasoning and theory of mind (ToM) was examined in five subgroups differing in diagnostic category and current illness status.

Results: The tendency to draw hasty decisions in probabilistic settings and poor ToM tested using story format feature in PDs irrespective of diagnosis. Furthermore, performance on the ToM story task correlated with the degree of distress caused by and preoccupation with the current PDs in the currently deluded groups. By contrast, performance on the non-verbal ToM task appears to be more sensitive to diagnosis, as patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders perform worse on this task than those with depression irrespective of the presence of PDs.

Conclusions: The psychological anomalies associated with PDs examined here are transdiagnostic but different measures of ToM may be more or less sensitive to indices of severity of the PDs, diagnosis and trait- or state-related cognitive effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1577 - 1583
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


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