Hallucination proneness, schizotypy and meta-cognition
Disordered or maladaptive meta-cognitive processing appears to be a prominent feature for some individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. We sought to establish whether healthy individuals distinguished either in terms hallucination proneness (HP) or level of schizotypy could also be differentiated on the sub-scales of the Meta-cognitions Questionnaire (MCQ), or a modified version of it in which items about worry were replaced with items specifically related to thinking. A total of 106 healthy volunteers completed the Oxford and Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences and Launay-Slade hallucination scale, the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire and two versions of the MCQ: the original which assesses five domains of meta-cognition and an adapted version in which items relating to worry had been replaced by items relating to thinking or reflecting on thinking (MCQ-th). ANOVA indicated highly significant differences between three groups of individuals differentiated in terms of high, medium and low proneness to hallucinations on four of the five MCQ sub-scales, and three of the four MCQ-th factors. Regression analyses indicated that the MCQ factors encompassing (1) a sense of uncontrollability of thinking (and the perceived attendant dangers of this) and (2) negative beliefs about thinking related to suspicion and punishment were the strongest predictors of high schizotypy. Individuals who score higher on a measure of HP are more likely to display patterns of meta-cognitive processing that resemble, in certain respects, those reported in individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. High schizotypy predicts a negative appraisal about both the controllability and consequences of thinking.