Dual-process theory, conflict processing, and delusional belief

Michael V. Bronstein, Gordon Pennycook, Jutta Joormann, Philip R. Corlett, Tyrone D. Cannon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Many reasoning biases that may contribute to delusion formation and/or maintenance are common in healthy individuals. Research indicating that reasoning in the general population proceeds via analytic processes (which depend upon working memory and support hypothetical thought) and intuitive processes (which are autonomous and independent of working memory) may therefore help uncover the source of these biases. Consistent with this possibility, recent studies imply that impaired conflict processing might reduce engagement in analytic reasoning, thereby producing reasoning biases and promoting delusions in individuals with schizophrenia. Progress toward understanding this potential pathway to delusions is currently impeded by ambiguity about whether any of these deficits or biases is necessary or sufficient for the formation and maintenance of delusions. Resolving this ambiguity requires consideration of whether particular cognitive deficits or biases in this putative pathway have causal primacy over other processes that may also participate in the causation of delusions. Accordingly, the present manuscript critically evaluates whether impaired conflict processing is the primary initiating deficit in the generation of reasoning biases that may promote the development and/or maintenance of delusions. Suggestions for future research that may elucidate mechanistic pathways by which reasoning deficits might engender and maintain delusions are subsequently offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101748
JournalClinical Psychology Review
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
PRC is supported by NIMH R01MH112887 , NIMH R21MH116258 as well as a Rising Star award from the International Mental Health Research Organization , the Clinical Neurosciences Division , U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs , the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders , VACHS , West Haven, CT, USA., the Yale University School of Medicine and Department of Psychiatry and the Connecticut Mental Health Center and Department of Mental Health and Human Services . The contents of this work are solely the authors' responsibility and do not necessarily represent the official view of NIH or the CMHC/DMHAS.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019


  • Conflict detection
  • Delusions
  • Dual stream modulation failure
  • Dual-process theory
  • Reasoning bias


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