Advertisement

Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 371–383 | Cite as

Attributional Style in Schizophrenia: Evidence for a Decreased Sense of Self-Causation in Currently Paranoid Patients

  • Steffen MoritzEmail author
  • Todd S. Woodward
  • Marc Burlon
  • Dieter F. Braus
  • Burghard Andresen
ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Abstract

It has been suggested that an exaggerated self-serving bias may underlie the formation of paranoia. One goal of the present study was to explore whether an abnormality of attributional style is confined to patients with persecutory delusions or extends to currently non-deluded patients. A second goal was to test whether paranoid patients show an external-personal rather than an external-situational attributional style for blame. An attributional styles questionnaire was administered to psychiatric patients diagnosed with schizophrenia (n = 35), depression (n = 18), and anxiety disorders (n = 34), as well as a healthy control group (n = 28). For each event (positive or negative outcome) participants were asked to write down what may have led to this event, and then to endorse the degree to which this event was caused by others/circumstances or themselves. Assessment of the Likert scale ratings demonstrated that while healthy subjects displayed a significant self-serving bias, currently paranoid and non-paranoid schizophrenia patients performed intermediately between healthy participants and depressed patients. Analysis of coded verbal statements indicated that irrespective of event type (positive, negative) patients with persecutory delusions had an even-handed attribution bias, whereas all other groups predominantly regarded themselves as causal. The latter finding indicates that acute paranoia may be associated with a decreased locus of internal control, which may promote the occurrence of certain paranoid beliefs (e.g., feelings of alien control and passivity experiences, respectively).

Keywords

Attribution Schizophrenia Paranoia Self-serving bias 

References

  1. Adler, A. (1914/1929). Melancholia and paranoia. In A. Adler (Eds.), The practice and theory of individual psychology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.Google Scholar
  2. Alloy, L. B., Abramson, L. Y., Whitehouse, W. G., Hogan, M. E., Tashman, N. A., Steinberg, D. L., et al. (1999). Depressogenic cognitive styles: Predictive validity, information processing and personality characteristics, and developmental origins. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37, 503–531.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck, A. T., & Steer, R. A. (1987). Beck depression inventory-manual. San Antonio: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  4. Bedford, N. J., Morgan, C., & Rossell, S. L. (2004). Lack of self-serving bias and excessive internalising of blame in the attributional style of schizophrenia-prone individuals. Schizophrenia Research, 67(Suppl.), 242.Google Scholar
  5. Bentall, R. P. (1994). Cognitive biases and abnormal beliefs: Towards a model of persecutory delusions. In A. S. David, & J. Cutting (Eds.), The neuropsychology of schizophrenia (pp. 337–360). London: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  6. Brunstein, J. C. (1986). Attributionsstil und Depression: Erste Befunde zur Reliabilität und Validität eines deutschsprachigen Attributionsstil-Fragebogens [Attributional style and depression: First results on the reliability and validity of a German attributional styles questionnaire]. Zeitschrift für Differentielle und Diagnostische Psychologie, 7, 45–53.Google Scholar
  7. Candido, C. L., & Romney, D. M. (1990). Attributional style in paranoid vs. depressed patients. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 63, 355–363.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Fear, C., Sharp, H., & Healy, D. (1996). Cognitive processes in delusional disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry, 168, 61–67.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Garety, P. A., & Freeman, D. (1999). Cognitive approaches to delusions: A critical review of theories and evidence. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38, 113–154.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hamilton, M. (1960). A rating scale for depression. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 23, 56–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Janssen, I., Versmissen, D., Campo, J. A., Myin-Germeys, I., Os, J. V., & Krabbendam, L. (2006). Attribution style and psychosis: Evidence for an externalizing bias in patients but not in individuals at high risk. Psychological Medicine, 36, 771–778.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jolley, S., Garety, P., Bebbington, P., Dunn, G., Freeman, D., Kuipers, E., et al. (in press). Attributional style in psychosis-The role of affect and belief type. Behaviour Research and Therapy.Google Scholar
  13. Kaney, S., & Bentall, R. P. (1989). Persecutory delusions and attributional style. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 62, 191–198.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Kinderman, P., & Bentall, R. P. (1997). Causal attributions in paranoia and depression: internal, personal, and situational attributions for negative events. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106, 341–345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kinderman, P., Kaney, S., Morley, S., & Bentall, R. P. (1992). Paranoia and the defensive attributional style: Deluded and depressed patients’ attributions about their own attributions. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 65, 371–383.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Krstev, H., Jackson, H., & Maude, D. (1999). An investigation of attributional style in first-episode psychosis. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38, 181–194.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lyon, H. M., Kaney, S., & Bentall, R. P. (1994). The defensive function of persecutory delusions. Evidence from attribution tasks. British Journal of Psychiatry, 164, 637–646.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Martin, J. A., & Penn, D. L. (2001). Social cognition and subclinical paranoid ideation. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 40, 261–265.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McKay, R., Langdon, R., & Coltheart, M. (2005). Paranoia, persecutory delusions and attributional biases. Psychiatry Research, 136, 233–245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Moritz, S., Woodward, T. S., & Burlon, M. (2005). Metacognitive skill training for schizophrenia patients (MCT). Hamburg: VanHam Campus Press.Google Scholar
  21. Moritz, S., Werner, R., & von Collani, G. (2006). The inferiority complex in paranoia re-addressed. A study with the Implicit Association Test. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 11, 402–415.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Overall, J. E., & Gorham, D. R. (1988). The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS): Recent developments in ascertainment and scaling. Psychopharmacology Bulletin, 24(1), 97–99.Google Scholar
  23. Seligman, M. E. P., Abramson, L. Y., Semmel, A., & Baeyer, C. V. (1979). Depressive attributional style. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88, 242–247.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sheehan, D. V., Lecrubier, Y., Sheehan, K. H., Amorim, P., Janavs, J., Weiller, E., et al. (1998). The MINI International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI): The development and validation of a structured diagnostic psychiatric interview. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 59(Suppl. 20), 22–33.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Young, H. F., & Bentall, R. P. (1997). Social reasoning in individuals with persecutory delusions: The effects of additional information on attributions for the observed behaviour of others. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 36, 569–573.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Zuckerman, M. (1979). Attribution of success and failure revisited, or the motivational bias is alive and well in attribution theory. Journal of Personality, 47, 245–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steffen Moritz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Todd S. Woodward
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marc Burlon
    • 1
  • Dieter F. Braus
    • 1
  • Burghard Andresen
    • 1
  1. 1.Hospital for Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity Hospital Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of ResearchRiverview HospitalCoquitlamCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologySimon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations