Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 445–457 | Cite as

Persecutory delusions and recall of threat-related, depression-related, and neutral words

  • Richard P. Bentall
  • Sue Kaney
  • Kim Bowen-Jones


An experiment was conducted to examine recall bias in patients suffering from persecutory delusions, depressed controls, and normal subjects. Subjects were given a mixed list of threat-related, depression-related, and emotionally neutral words which they were asked to recall immediately afterwards. Deluded patients recalled fewer words overall than the normal subjects, and showed a recall bias toward both threat-related and depression-related words. The deluded subjects also showed a significant tendency to repeat threat-related words during recall. These biases were not significantly related to levels of depressive symptomatology or magical ideation in the deluded patients. Depressed patients showed a recall bias toward depression-related words only, and showed no significant tendency to repeat either depression-related or threat-related words. The findings are interpreted in the light of cognitive accounts of persecutory delusions.

Key words

delusions persecution recall cognitive bias 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard P. Bentall
    • 1
  • Sue Kaney
    • 1
  • Kim Bowen-Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Psychology, Whelan BuildingLiverpool UniversityLiverpoolGreat Britain

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