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The specificity of referential thinking: A comparison of schizotypy and social anxiety

Psychiatry Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2007.10.015
  • Assessment
  • Psychometric High Risk
  • Validity
  • Ideas Of Reference
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract Ideas of reference are considered hallmarks of schizophrenia-related psychopathology. However, the specificity of referential thinking to schizophrenia-related psychopathology has not been examined empirically. Schizotypy reflects the latent liability for schizophrenia and is associated with referential thinking. Referential thinking may occur in other forms of psychopatholoy, such as social anxiety, which is characterized by cognitive distortions in which the thoughts and judgments of others are viewed as having reference to the self. Our primary aim was to examine the specificity of referential thinking to schizotypy. A sample of 830 college students completed a psychometric screening, of which 102 met criteria for inclusion in one of three groups: schizotypy ( n = 30), social anxiety ( n = 28), normal controls ( n = 44). Participants completed the Referential Thinking Scale (REF), and other measures of schizotypy (Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire, Peters et al Delusion Index, Schizophrenia Proneness Scale, Social Anhedonia Scale), affect, and intellectual functioning. The schizotypy group exhibited higher REF scores than both comparison groups. REF scores were associated with other schizotypy measures and loaded onto a positive schizotypy factor, but not onto a negative schizotypy or negative affect factor. These findings support the specificity of high levels of referential thinking to schizotypy and the construct validity of the REF.

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