The Psychological Record

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 329–338 | Cite as

Rule-Based Insensitivity and Delusion Maintenance in Schizophrenia

  • J. L. Monestès
  • M. Villatte
  • I. Stewart
  • G. Loas
Original Article


A variety of cognitive mechanisms have been proposed to apprehend the maintenance of delusional beliefs, a typical feature of schizophrenia. However, none of these mechanisms takes into account the verbal properties of delusions. An alternative behavioral approach is proposed, which considers delusional beliefs as verbal rules and maintenance of delusions as a form of rule-based insensitivity to changing environmental contingencies. A pilot study is described in which patients formerly presenting with delusional ideas and control participants were exposed in a repeated measures design to three different instructional conditions, instructions, no instructions, and self-instructions, in the context of a non-signaled changing multiple reinforcement schedule. Results suggest that, in the presence of instructions, patients formerly presenting with delusional ideas demonstrate greater insensitivity to changes in schedule contingencies than control participants. While these findings are preliminary, they suggest that rule-based insensitivity to changing environmental contingencies constitutes a new promising way to approach maintenance of delusional beliefs.


Delusions Belief maintenance Self-instruction Rule-governed behavior Schizophrenia 


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. Monestès
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  • M. Villatte
    • 2
  • I. Stewart
    • 3
  • G. Loas
    • 4
  1. 1.Mental Health ServiceUniversity of RéunionRéunionFrance
  2. 2.Evidence Based Practice InstituteSeattleUSA
  3. 3.National University of Ireland GalwayGalwayIreland
  4. 4.Cliniques Universitaires de Bruxelles, Hôpital ErasmeUniversité libre de Bruxelles (ULB)BrusselBelgium
  5. 5.Pôle de Santé MentaleCHU de la RéunionSaint-Pierre CedexFrance
  6. 6.Laboratoire Epsylon EA 4556MontpellierFrance

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