The role of personal biases in the explanation of confabulation

Kasey Metcalf*, Robyn Langdon, Max Coltheart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction. Previous research has demonstrated that motivational forces play an important role in determining the content of confabulation. In particular the content of confabulation has been shown to contain a positive emotional bias. This study investigated the role of personal biases in the confabulations of six patients with diverse aetiologies. Method. Confabulations were elicited with a series of structured interviews. We then compared the patients' confabulations to their actual situations. Further analyses compared confabulations about current (i.e., the postmorbid period) and past (i.e., premorbid events and general life circumstances) events. Results. Group analysis confirmed a general bias to recall events that were more positive than the reality. However, examination of individual cases revealed that positive biases were not universal. Confabulations about current circumstances showed the positive bias, whereas an emotional bias was not evident in past confabulations. Conclusion. We conclude that motivational forces play a role in determining the content of confabulations but conceive of this role primarily in terms of a need to maintain a consistent self-concept (whether positive or negative) overlaid upon the ease with which an individual can retrieve familiar premorbid daily activities and routines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-94
Number of pages31
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


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