When Patients Overreport Symptoms: More Than Just Malingering

Harald Merckelbach*, Brechje Dandachi-FitzGerald, Daniel van Helvoort, Marko Jelicic, Henry Otgaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Mental-health patients may report more symptoms than they actually experience. Experts and laypeople often view this overreporting as a sign of malingering. We show that there are multiple pathways to symptom overreporting: carryover effects from previous tests that lower the threshold for answering affirmatively to symptom items, suggestive misinformation that escalates symptom reports, inattentive responding that promotes indiscriminate endorsement of symptoms, and personality traits that bias symptom reports in an upward direction. A one-sided focus on malingering may distract from a research agenda that may contribute to knowledge accumulation in this domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-326
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • symptoms
  • self-reports
  • malingering
  • alexithymia
  • misinformation
  • negative affectivity
  • STRUCTURED-INVENTORY
  • HEALTH
  • SYMPTOMATOLOGY
  • COMPLAINTS
  • CARELESS
  • DISEASE
  • ILLNESS
  • TRAUMA
  • NOCEBO

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