The contribution of a cognitive bias against disconfirmatory evidence (BADE) to delusions in schizophrenia

Todd S. Woodward*, Steffen Moritz, Carrie Cuttler, Jennifer C. Whitman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Citations (Scopus)


A neuropsychological paradigm is introduced that provides a measure of a bias against disconfirmatory evidence (BADE), and its correspondence with delusions in people with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder was investigated. Fifty-two patients diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (36 were acutely delusional) and 24 healthy control participants were presented with delusion-neutral pictures in each trial, and were asked to rate the plausibility of four written interpretations of the scenario depicted by that picture. Subsequently, new pictures that provided background information about the depicted scenario were successively presented, and participants were requested to adjust their ratings, taking into account this new information. Two of the interpretations appeared tenable initially but ultimately proved to be implausible, one appeared untenable initially but eventually proved to be plausible, and one appeared untenable at all stages. A BADE was observed for delusional compared to non-delusional patients, as well as for all patients compared to controls. In addition, regardless of symptom profile, patients were more accepting of implausible interpretations than controls. The present work suggests that deficits in reasoning may contribute to the maintenance of delusions via an impairment in the processing of disconfirmatory evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-617
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


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