Delusions and decision-making style: Use of the Need for Closure Scale

Daniel Freeman, Philippa Garety, Elizabeth Kuipers, Susannah Colbert, Suzanne Jolley, David Fowler, Graham Dunn, Paul Bebbington

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73 Citations (Scopus)


Clinicians and researchers have suggested that rapidity in belief formation, due to having a high ‘need for closure’ (NFC), may contribute to the acceptance of delusional explanations. The aim of the study is to determine whether NFC has such a direct link with delusions. A secondary aim is to examine if NFC is related to the delusion-associated reasoning process of ‘jumping to conclusions’.

One hundred and eighty-seven patients with psychosis, recruited for a treatment trial of psychological therapy (the PRP trial), completed the Need for Closure Scale (NFCS), symptom measures, and probabilistic reasoning tasks. The NFCS was considered in terms of its two dimensions: a desire for simple structure and a preference for quick, decisive answers.

The individuals with psychosis reported being poor at making quick, decisive answers but required a greater need for simple structure. NFC was associated with levels of anxiety and depression. There were weak links between NFC and both positive and negative symptoms of psychosis, but these were explained by differences in affect. NFCS scores were unrelated to jumping to conclusions.

Contrary to the argument that NFC is directly linked to delusions, individuals with delusions actually perceive themselves as indecisive. There was no evidence that NFC—at least as assessed by the NFCS—could be a proximal cause of delusions. Any potential effect on psychotic symptom presentation is indirect, mediated through affect. The use of the NFCS on its own in the study of psychotic symptoms cannot be recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1158
Number of pages12
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number8
Early online date13 Oct 2005
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006

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