Decreased memory confidence in obsessive–compulsive disorder for scenarios high and low on responsibility: is low still too high?

Steffen Moritz*, Anne Jaeger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research suggests that patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), particularly checkers, display an inflated sense of responsibility. For the present study, we tested whether memory confidence in OCD is reduced under conditions of heightened responsibility and/or reflects poor memory vividness. A computerized task designed to modulate perceived responsibility was administered to 26 OCD patients (12 checkers) and 21 healthy controls. In the experimental condition (high responsibility), participants had to allocate daily medications to ten fictive patients in a hospital emergency ward, whereas in the control condition (low responsibility) participants had to allocate bath essences for ten hotel guests. Participants’ response time and accuracy were recorded as well as their memory confidence, memory vividness, and subjective success. Irrespective of the condition, OCD patients performed as accurately as healthy controls, but appraised their performance as worse than that of controls. Memory confidence was decreased in patients, particularly checkers. No group differences emerged on vividness, and none of the effects were moderated by the condition (high versus low responsibility). The relationship between responsibility and OCD behavior is complex. Results suggest metamemory problems in OCD checkers, even when induced responsibility is low. The findings speak against “cold” memory deficits in OCD, as patients did not differ from controls on accuracy, reaction time, or vividness. Future research should focus on idiosyncratic beliefs and scenarios that inflate responsibility and elicit cognitive biases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291–299
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number3
Early online date28 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • obsessive–compulsive disorder
  • inflated sense of responsibility
  • response confidence
  • memory
  • vividness


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