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Department of Psychology


Publication details for Professor Charles Fernyhough

Fernyhough, C., Jones, S. R., Whittle, C., Waterhouse, J. & Bentall, R. P. (2008). Theory of mind, schizotypy, and persecutory ideation in young adults. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 13(3): 233-249.

Author(s) from Durham


Introduction. Previous studies of the relation between theory of mind (ToM) and schizotypy have suggested that ToM deficits may be associated with positive signs (e.g., hallucination- and delusion-like experiences). Good theoretical reasons exist to suggest that this relation may be largely due to ToM deficits being predominantly associated with the occurrence of persecutory delusion-like beliefs. This study set out to test this hypothesis and address limitations of previous research.
Method. Online administration of measures to a large nonclinical sample of young adults (N=828) was used to examine schizotypy, assessed by a new 30-item version of the Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences (Mason, Claridge, & Jackson, 1995), persecutory delusion-like beliefs, assessed by the Persecutory Ideation Questionnaire (McKay, Langdon, & Coltheart, 2006), and ToM, indexed by the Hinting task (Corcoran, Mercer, & Frith, 1995) and a cartoon comprehension task (Corcoran, Cahill, & Frith, 1997).
Results. No relations with ToM were found for global, positive, or negative schizotypy, nor persecutory delusion-like beliefs. This was the case both for whole group correlations and in analyses comparing groups formed by fifth-centile (top–bottom) splits by schizotypy scores. Scores on the two ToM tasks were not strongly correlated.
Conclusion. Our findings point to no correlations with ToM for either schizotypy or persecutory ideation. These findings are discussed in relation to previous research.