Our group has repeatedly replicated the “jumping-to-conclusions bias” in patients with schizophrenia (Moritz & Woodward, 2005; Moritz, Woodward, & Lambert, 2007), which demonstrates that not only acute but also remitted patients share a tendency to make hasty decisions, even when confronted with delusion-neutral events. In subsequent studies using other paradigms, such as a task that resembles the famous “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” game show, we have gathered evidence that this response pattern may stem from a liberal threshold for acceptance (Moritz & Woodward, 2004; Moritz, Woodward, & Hausmann, 2006; Moritz, Woodward, Jelinek, & Klinge, 2008).

Incorrigibility, that is, the maintenance of an opinion or attitude despite counter-evidence that most would find convincing, is a core feature of delusions. A series of studies conducted by Dr. Todd Woodward and others (Moritz & Woodward, 2006; Veckenstedt et al., 2011; Woodward, Moritz, & Chen, 2006; Woodward, Moritz, Cutler, & Whitman, 2006; Woodward, Moritz, Menon, & Klinge, 2008) confirmed that people with schizophrenia, especially those with acute positive symptoms, show a decreased ability to integrate disconfirmatory information in their decisions (this is known as bias against disconfirmatory evidence, or BADE). This response style, along with the aforementioned jumping-to-conclusions bias, may represent a pivotal mechanism in the formation and maintenance of schizophrenia. Additionally, we have investigated a hypothesis put forward by Bentall and Kinderman claiming that paranoid people share a bias to personalize failure, which in turn reflects an underlying decreased implicit self-esteem and perhaps a stronger self-serving bias (success is due to one’s own efforts, whereas failure is due to others or circumstances). Although we indeed found evidence for decreased implicit self-esteem (Moritz, Werner, & von Collani, 2006), the results do not support the idea that there is a stronger self-serving bias in this disorder. However, through this work, we found another interesting deviation, which is that people with acute psychosis expressed less control and personal involvement with regard to both positive and negative events (Moritz, Woodward, Burlon, Braus, & Andresen, 2007). In comparison to healthy and psychiatric controls, they attributed the causes of positive and negative events significantly more often as outside their control. We also found evidence of mono-causal attributions in individuals with psychosis (Randjbar, Veckenstedt, Vitzthum, Hottenrott, & Moritz, 2011).

Research Collaboration

In cooperation with Prof. Tania Lincoln from Hamburg, we are investigating whether the cognitive biases discussed above are further aggravated under stress (e.g., Lincoln, Peter, Schäfer, & Moritz, 2010), and in collaboration with PD Dr. Daniela Roesch-Ely from Heidelberg, we have assessed the role of cognitive biases for symptomatic and functional outcomes in schizophrenia (Andreou et al., 2013, 2014). Additional studies deal with other cognitive biases in schizophrenia, such as attentional distortions (e.g., Moritz & Laudan, 2007) and the illusion of control (Moritz, Thompson, & Andreou, 2014).

Research Team

  • PD Dr. Christina Andreou
  • Francesca Bohn, M.Sc.
  • Dipl.-Psych. Birgit Hottenrott
  • Prof. Dr. Steffen Moritz
  • Dipl.-Psych. Sarah Randjbar
  • Dr. Ruth Veckenstedt

Cooperating Partners

  • Prof. Dr. Tania Lincoln (Department of Psychology, Hamburg, Germany)
  • Prof. Dr. Todd S. Woodward (University of British Columbia and Riverview Hospital, Vancouver, Canada)

 

References

Andreou, C., Roesch-Ely, D., Veckenstedt, R., Bohn, F., Aghotor, J., Köther, U., Pfueller, U. & Moritz, S. (2013). Predictors of early stable symptomatic remission after an exacerbation of schizophrenia: The significance of symptoms, neuropsychological performance and cognitive biases. Psychiatry Research, 210, 729-734.

Andreou, C., Treszl, A., Roesch-Ely, D., Köther, U., Veckenstedt, R., & Moritz, S. (2014). Investigation of the role of the jumping-to-conclusions bias for short-term functional outcome in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research, 218, 341-347.

Lincoln, T. M., Peter, N., Schäfer, M., & Moritz, S. (2010). From stress to paranoia: An experimental investigation of the moderating and mediating role of reasoning biases. Psychological Medicine, 40, 169-171.

Moritz, S., & Laudan, A. (2007). Attention bias for paranoia-relevant visual stimuli in schizophrenia. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 12, 381-390.

Moritz, S., Thompson, S. C., & Andreou, C. (2014). Illusory control in schizophrenia. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 5, 113-122.

Moritz, S., Werner, R., & von Collani, G. (2006). The inferiority complex in paranoia readdressed: A study with the Implicit Association Test. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 11, 402-415.

Moritz, S., & Woodward, T. S. (2004). Plausibility judgment in schizophrenic patients: Evidence for a liberal acceptance bias. German Journal of Psychiatry, 7, 66-74.

Moritz, S., & Woodward, T. S. (2005). Jumping to conclusions in delusional and non-delusional schizophrenic patients. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 44, 193-207.

Moritz, S., & Woodward, T. S. (2006). A generalized bias against disconfirmatory evidence in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research, 142, 157-165.

Moritz, S., Woodward, T. S., Burlon, M., Braus, D. F., & Andresen, B. (2007). Attributional style in schizophrenia: Evidence for a decreased sense of self-causation in currently paranoid patients. Cognitive Research and Therapy, 31, 371-383.

Moritz, S., Woodward, T. S., & Hausmann, D. (2006). Incautious reasoning as a pathogenetic factor for the development of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 32, 327-331.

Moritz, S., Woodward, T. S., Jelinek, L., & Klinge, R. (2008). Memory and metamemory in schizophrenia: A liberal acceptance account of psychosis. Psychological Medicine, 38, 825-832.

Moritz, S., Woodward, T. S., & Lambert, M. (2007). Under what circumstances do patients with schizophrenia jump to conclusions? A liberal acceptance account. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 46, 127-137.

Randjbar, S., Veckenstedt, R., Vitzthum, F., Hottenrott, B., & Moritz, S. (2011). Attributional biases in paranoid schizophrenia: Further evidence for a decreased sense of self‐causation in paranoia. Psychosis, 3, 74-85.

Veckenstedt, R., Randjbar, S., Vitzthum, F., Hottenrott, B., Woodward, T. S., & Moritz, S. (2011). Incorrigibility, jumping to conclusions, and decision threshold in schizophrenia. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 16, 174-192.

Woodward, T. S., Moritz, S., & Chen E. Y. (2006). The contribution of a cognitive bias against disconfirmatory evidence (BADE) to delusions: A study in an Asian sample with first episode schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Schizophrenia Research, 83, 297-298.

Woodward, T. S., Moritz, S., Cuttler, C., & Whitman, J. C. (2006). The contribution of a cognitive bias against disconfirmatory evidence (BADE) to delusions in schizophrenia. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 28, 605-617.

Woodward, T. S., Moritz, S., Menon, M., & Klinge, R. (2008). Belief inflexibility in schizophrenia. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 13, 267-277.