Confirmation biases across the psychosis continuum: The contribution of hypersalient evidence-hypothesis matches

Ryan Balzan, Paul Delfabbro, Cherrie Galletly, Todd Woodward

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    53 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives Hypersalience of evidence-hypothesis matches has recently been proposed as the cognitive mechanism responsible for the cognitive biases, which, in turn, may contribute to the formation and maintenance of delusions. However, supporting evidence for this construct is still required. Using two tasks designed to elicit three core facets of the confirmation bias (i.e., biased search of confirming evidence; biased interpretation of confirming evidence; and biased recall of confirming evidence), this article investigated the possibility that individuals with delusions and those identified as delusion-prone are hypersalient to evidence-hypothesis matches. Methods A total of 75 participants (25 diagnosed with schizophrenia with a history of delusions; 25 non-clinical delusion-prone; 25 non-delusion-prone controls) completed both tasks. Results The results across both tasks showed that participants with schizophrenia and delusion-prone participants prefer: non-diagnostic or non-specific positive tests over diagnostic negative tests (biased search); rate confirming evidence as more important than disconfirming evidence (biased interpretation); and remember confirming evidence with greater ease than disconfirming evidence (biased recall). Participants with higher delusional ideation also failed to integrate disconfirmatory evidence to modify prior hypotheses. Conclusions These results suggest that delusional ideation is linked to a hypersalience of evidence-hypothesis matches. The theoretical implications of this cognitive mechanism on the formation and maintenance of delusions are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)53-69
    Number of pages17
    JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


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