Psychiatric framing affects positive but not negative schizotypy scores in psychology and medical students

Christine Mohr, Kerry Schofield, Ute Leonards, Marc S. Wilson, Gina M. Grimshaw*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
245 Downloads (Pure)


When testing risk for psychosis, we regularly rely on self-report questionnaires. Yet, the more that people know about this condition, the more they might respond defensively, in particular with regard to the more salient positive symptom dimension. In two studies, we investigated whether framing provided by questionnaire instructions might modulate responses on self-reported positive and negative schizotypy. The O-LIFE (UK study) or SPQ (New Zealand study) questionnaire was framed in either a “psychiatric” “creativity” or “personality” (NZ only) context. We tested psychology students (without taught knowledge about psychosis) and medical students (with taught knowledge about psychosis; UK only). We observed framing effects in psychology students in both studies: positive schizotypy scores were lower after the psychiatric compared to the creativity instruction. However, schizotypy scores did not differ between the creativity and personality framing conditions, suggesting that the low scores with psychiatric framing reflect defensive responding. The same framing effect was also observed in medical students, despite their lower positive schizotypy scores overall. Negative schizotypy scores were not affected by framing in either study. These results highlight the need to reduce response biases when studying schizotypy, because these might blur schizotypy-behaviour relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-89
Number of pages5
JournalPsychiatry Research
Early online date12 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Cognitive Science
  • Visual Perception
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neuropsychology


  • Framing effects
  • O-LIFE
  • Response bias
  • Schizotypy
  • Self-report questionnaires
  • SPQ

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