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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology
Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
Indexed/Abstracted in: EMBASE, e-psyche, PsycINFO, Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index
Minerva Psichiatrica 2001 June;42(2):107-18
Delusion and reasoning. An experimental study on thought in mental disorders
Chiappelli M., Giusberti F.
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Background. The aim of our study is to verify whether there are differences, in some reasoning processes, between individuals with delusional symptomatology and non-deluded individuals and, if these differences exist, whether they may be ascribed to particular features of thinking processes. A comparison between two ''clinical'' groups and two non clinical groups in inferential processes was made.
Methods. Two ''clinical'' groups and two ''non clinical'' groups participated in the study. 14 inductive reasoning tasks were randomly proposed to the subjects.
Results. The groups significantly differ only in the decision-making and in the research strategies. In the decision making task, in high risk choice situations, deluded subjects tend not to choose firmly the most risky option as, instead, do the other subjects. In research strategies task, even though deluded subjects reach the solution, they use a greater number of moves than the other subjects.
Conclusions. As far as the reasoning behaviour is concerned, there is no difference between groups in the tasks concerning heuristics of thought. This result takes on a special importance if one considers that traditionally it is thought that pathologies like delusion interfere heavily with the cognitive functioning. In high risk choice situations, the tendency of deluded subjects not to choose the most risky option might indicate the tendency to maintain a more careful attitude, that is in a certain sense more self-protective.
As far as the tasks on research strategies are concerned, probably deluded subjects may have difficulties in planning, or in mentally representing a move and its reversal. Finally, they might have a reduced mental visualisation of the problem and this would prevent a complete scanning of the problem structure.