Subjective versus objective cognition: evidence for poor metacognitive monitoring in schizophrenia

Steffen Moritz*, Ryan P. Balzan, Francesca Bohn, Ruth Veckenstedt, Katharina Kolbeck, Julia Bierbrodt, Mona Dietrichkeit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Patients with schizophrenia display a number of cognitive biases, particularly a tendency to jump to conclusions, which are implicated in the pathogenesis of the disorder. The present study contrasted the degree of objective reasoning biases with subjective cognitive insight. We expected that patients with schizophrenia would display greater objective than subjective impairment suggestive of poor metacognitive awareness. Methods: Patients with schizophrenia (n = 140) and healthy controls (n = 60) underwent a test battery encompassing a cognitive bias paradigm (beads task) as well as neurocognitive tests (story recall, trail-making tests). In addition, they were administered the Beck Cognitive Insight Scale (BCIS), a subjective measure of (meta)cognitive awareness. Results: Corroborating prior research on decision making, draws to decisions were significantly delayed in controls relative to patients, whereas the core jumping to conclusion parameter (i.e., decision after one or two pieces of information) bordered significance. Patients with schizophrenia showed a lowered decision threshold and impaired neurocognition relative to nonclinical controls. Despite poor cognitive performance and prior psychotic episodes, patients with schizophrenia showed similar scores on the self-confidence subscale of the BCIS and reported even higher levels of self-reflectiveness relative to healthy controls. Discussion: The study demonstrates that patients with schizophrenia show severe cognitive biases and neurocognitive deficits but display only partial awareness herein. Raising cognitive insight in a non-insulting fashion and elevating patients’ corrigibility as well as willingness to consider others’ feedback and advice may help to narrow this gap and improve psychiatric symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-79
Number of pages6
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia
  • metacognition
  • cognitive biases
  • cognitive insight


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