We asked students, clinicians, and people from the general population attending a public university lecture (n = 401) whether they knew others who (had) feigned symptoms. We also asked about the type of symptoms and the motives involved. A slight majority of proxy respondents (59%) reported that they knew a person who (had) feigned symptoms, and 34% knew a person who had admitted to them having feigned symptoms. According to our respondents, the most often feigned symptoms were headache/migraine, common cold/fever, and stomachache/nausea, and the most important reasons for doing so were sick leave from work, excusing a failure, and seeking attention from others. We conclude that feigning is part of the normal behavioral repertoire of people and has little to do with deviant personality traits and/or criminal motives. Also, the current emphasis in the neuropsychological literature on malingering, i.e., feigning motivated by external incentives, might be one-sided given that psychological motives, notably seeking attention from others and excuse making, seem to be important determinants of everyday feigning.

Additional Metadata
Keywords DSM-5, Feigning, Malingering, Prevalence, Proxy respondents
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12207-020-09387-6, hdl.handle.net/1765/129741
Journal Psychological Injury and Law
Dandachi-FitzGerald, B. (Brechje), Merckelbach, H. (Harald), Bošković, I. (Irena), & Jelicic, M. (2020). Do You Know People Who Feign? Proxy Respondents About Feigned Symptoms. Psychological Injury and Law. doi:10.1007/s12207-020-09387-6