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Department of Psychology

Staff

Publication details for Professor Charles Fernyhough

Smailes, D., Meins, E. & Fernyhough, C. (2014). The impact of negative affect on reality discrimination. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 45(3): 389-395.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Background and objectives
People who experience auditory hallucinations tend to show weak reality discrimination skills, so that they misattribute internal, self-generated events to an external, non-self source. We examined whether inducing negative affect in healthy young adults would increase their tendency to make external misattributions on a reality discrimination task.

Methods
Participants (N = 54) received one of three mood inductions (one positive, two negative) and then performed an auditory signal detection task to assess reality discrimination.

Results
Participants who received either of the two negative inductions made more false alarms, but not more hits, than participants who received the neutral induction, indicating that negative affect makes participants more likely to misattribute internal, self-generated events to an external, non-self source.

Limitations
These findings are drawn from an analogue sample, and research that examines whether negative affect also impairs reality discrimination in patients who experience auditory hallucinations is required.

Conclusions
These findings show that negative affect disrupts reality discrimination and suggest one way in which negative affect may lead to hallucinatory experiences.