Reasoning in deluded schizophrenic and paranoid patients. Biases in performance on a probabilistic inference task

J Nerv Ment Dis. 1991 Apr;179(4):194-201. doi: 10.1097/00005053-199104000-00003.


An experiment is described in which deluded subjects with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or of delusional disorder (paranoia) were compared with a nondeluded psychiatric control group and a normal control group on a probabilistic inference task. Factors relevant to belief formation and maintenance were investigated. Deluded subjects requested less information before reaching a decision and were more ready to change their estimates of the likelihood of an event when confronted with potentially disconfirmatory information. No differences were found between the two diagnostic groups of deluded subjects. The results are discussed in light of prevailing theories of the importance of abnormal experience rather than reasoning biases in the formation and maintenance of delusional beliefs. It is suggested that a reasoning abnormality is involved, which may coexist with perceptual abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Decision Making*
  • Delusions / psychology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Paranoid Disorders / diagnosis
  • Paranoid Disorders / psychology*
  • Probability
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*