Prolonged rather than hasty decision-making in schizophrenia using the box task. Must we rethink the jumping to conclusions account of paranoia?

Steffen Moritz, Jakob Scheunemann, Thies Lüdtke, Stefan Westermann, Gerit Pfuhl, Ryan P. Balzan, Christina Andreou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Jumping to conclusions (JTC) is the best established cognitive bias in schizophrenia and is increasingly targeted in interventions aimed to improve positive symptoms. To address shortcomings of the standard measure to capture JTC, the beads task, we developed a new variant—the box task—which was subsequently validated in people with elevated psychotic-like experiences. For the first time, the box task was administered in a sample of individuals with manifest schizophrenia. We hypothesized that patients with schizophrenia would display an elevated JTC bias relative to controls. Method: We recruited a large sample of 101 patients with schizophrenia and matched them to an online sample recruited from the general population. In the box task, participants must decide which of two kinds of colored balls are presented more often. Participants are told that the task may end prematurely, and that task performance will be counted as an error if no decision had been made before that point. The primary measure was the number of draws to decision (DTD), where fewer DTD corresponds to greater JTC. Results: In contrast to expectations, participants with schizophrenia showed significantly higher DTD (i.e., reduced JTC). Consistent with our previous findings, patients also displayed a lowered decision threshold compared to controls. Response confidence for the final decision was lower in patients and correlated with self-esteem and positive symptoms. While there was evidence that previous knowledge of the box task lowered DTD, exclusion of participants with experience on the box task did not substantially change results. Discussion: The study fits a growing body of experiments casting doubt on the generalizability of the JTC effect in schizophrenia across different tasks. While the study tentatively supports a liberal acceptance account of psychosis, caution is warranted and we recommend that research should explore and control for potentially important mediators (e.g., task difficulty, stress, test-taking attitudes).

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalSCHIZOPHRENIA RESEARCH
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Beads task
  • Box task
  • Data gathering
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Liberal acceptance
  • Schizophrenia

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