Abstract During stages of remission, patients with paranoid schizophrenia seldom show severe attentional or information-processing dysfunctions, except in cases of long-term chronicity. The diagnostic specificity of four putative psychological vulnerability indicators of schizophrenia — the Span of Apprehension, the degraded stimulus Continuous Performance Test (dsCPT), the degraded stimulus visual backward masking task and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) — was examined in a group of patients with paranoid schizophrenia. Since no single test seems to identify all patients, the use of a combination of measures may be a useful strategy. Accordingly, the four tests were administered to 18 paranoid schizophrenic patients, 18 depressed patients and 18 normal subjects. Paranoid schizophrenic patients could be distinguished from normal subjects primarily on the basis of their performance on the backward masking task and secondarily by the dsCPT and the WCST. Paranoid schizophrenic and depressed patients could be differentiated to some extent by their performance on an information-mask condition of the backward masking task. Thus, of the four measures studied, only the degraded stimulus backward masking appeared to be a specific indicator of paranoid schizophrenia. © 1997 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.