Effort and liberal acceptance bias in patients with schizophrenia

Steffen Moritz*, Jakob Scheunemann, Maarten J. Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction:A liberal acceptance bias is implicated in the formation and maintenance of delusions in schizophrenia. The present study tested the hypothesis that patients with schizophrenia are more quickly satisfied with their task performance than controls despite poor objective performance. Methods:Fifty patients with schizophrenia and 50 healthy controls performed the newly developed copy figure task in which participants copy a complex geometrical figure up to eight times until they are satisfied with the result. Objective performance was scored blind to group status. Subjective performance was rated on a 10-point scale. Carefulness of the drawing using anchor points served as a proxy for effort. Results:Patients made as many attempts as controls to copy the figure despite their worse subjective and objective performance. The number of attempts was negatively correlated with (persecutory) delusions and the PANSS total score. Neither effort nor possible frustration due to a plateau in performance was a reason for task termination. Conclusions:This exploratory study is in line with predictions based on the liberal acceptance model. For future studies, we recommend further cross-validating this paradigm and testing whether patients' retrospective assessment of their performance is exaggerated relative to controls. We also suggest that researchers pursue this line of research with personally meaningful material where a decreased threshold of acceptance may more easily translate into the subsequent fixation of ideas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-370
Number of pages7
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number5
Early online date14 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2020


  • Liberal acceptance
  • delusions
  • jumping to conclusions
  • effort
  • psychosis


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