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Schizophr Res. 2004 Jul 1;69(1):29-33.

Persecutory beliefs, attributions and theory of mind: comparison of patients with paranoid delusions, Asperger's syndrome and healthy controls.

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Department of Clinical Psychology, Institute for Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.


Schizophrenia patients with persecutory delusions and patients with Asperger's syndrome were compared using two measures of theory of mind (ToM; the ability to infer mental states in other people), the Hints task, and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes task, and a new measure of attributional style (style of inferring the causes of important events), the Attributional Style Structured Interview (ASSI). Paranoid beliefs were measured using Fenigstien and Vanable's Paranoia Scale (PS). The deluded group had the highest scores on the Paranoia Scale but the scores of the Asperger's group's were higher than those of the controls. Paranoid patients made more external-personal attributions for negative events than the Asperger's and control groups. Both the paranoid and Asperger's groups performed poorly on the ToM tasks compared to the controls. The findings support the hypothesis that both ToM and attributional abnormalities contribute to paranoid delusions. The lack of attributional abnormalities in the Asperger's group suggests that their low-level paranoid symptoms arise as a consequence of different mechanisms than those involved in psychotic delusions.

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