Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 741–758 | Cite as

‘Jumping to Conclusions’ and Attributional Style in Persecutory Delusions

  • Jayne Merrin
  • Peter Kinderman
  • Richard P. Bentall
Original Article


Persecutory delusions have been associated with a tendency to 'jump to conclusions' and an abnormal attributional style. We hypothesised that jumping to conclusions - requesting relatively little information prior to decision-making - could account for the observed biases in attributional style. Individuals with persecutory delusions (n = 24) were compared with matched depressed psychiatric (n = 24) and nonpsychiatric (n = 24) comparison groups using a modified inductive reasoning task (John & Dodgson, 1994) on which participants requested information before making attributions for common social events. Both clinical groups 'jumped to conclusions' and made attributions on the basis of little evidence. This tendency was greatest in individuals with persecutory delusions. Differences were also found in the proportions of questions seeking internal, external and situational information. However, there were no significant differences between the groups in the final attributions made. These findings inform a model of persecutory delusions whereby a limited cognitive search strategy may influence attributional style.


Paranoia Persecutory delusions Jumping to conclusions Causal attributions. 



The authors would like to thank the patients and staff of psychiatric services in Liverpool, England, who contributed to the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jayne Merrin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter Kinderman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard P. Bentall
    • 3
  1. 1.Merseycare NHS Trust, Department of Clinical PsychologyRathbone HospitalLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  3. 3.University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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