Illusions of Inference: Are People with Schizotypal Tendencies More Vulnerable?
SHARON L. HANNIGAN, St. Lawrence University, & CATHERINE L. HARRIS, Boston
University-People sometimes mistake the schematic and backward causal inferences
they draw for actual occurrences (Hannigan & Reinitz, 2001, 2003). This study
explored whether students who report schizotypal personality traits are more susceptible
to illusions of inference than non-trait controls. Participants completed the
Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire and then viewed four thematically coherent
action sequences (e.g., shopping). Twenty minutes later, a recognition test was
administered consisting of old (previously seen) and new (not seen) slides. New
slides set the stage for schematic (high/low schema-relevant) and causal (forward/backward)
inferential errors. Compared with controls, those with schizotypal features had
lower mean confidence in old and higher mean confidence in all new conditions,
signaling difficulty discriminating old and new information. Elevated confidence
in schema-relevant and backward but not forward - inference foils in the
schizotypal group indicate over-reliance on contexal and causal schemas in the
face of impoverished episodic memory.