This study explores the tenability of the idea that a general tendency to confirm rather than to falsify personal beliefs (i.e., belief bias) is responsible for the general refractoriness of dysfunctional convictions that play a role in psychopathology. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between a generally enhanced belief bias and the severity of self-reported psychopathological symptoms in a non-clinical sample. Participants (N = 200) solved a series of linear syllogisms concerning neutral themes. They were asked to judge the syllogisms' logical validity, without taking the believability of the syllogisms into account. Participants performed relatively poor (i.e., they made more errors and displayed longer response latencies) when there was a mismatch between the logical validity and believability of the syllogisms (i.e., a general belief bias). However, there was no linear association between the severity of the general belief bias and the severity of psychopathological complaints. Thus, the present study lends no support to the idea that a generally enhanced tendency to confirm rather than to falsify prior beliefs is a diathesis for the development of psychopathology.

Anxiety, Belief bias, Psychopathology, Syllogistic reasoning,
Cognitive Therapy and Research
Department of Psychology

Smeets, G, & de Jong, P.J. (2005). Belief bias and symptoms of psychopathology in a non-clinical sample. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 29(4), 377–386. doi:10.1007/s10608-005-1676-5