Failure of hypothesis evaluation as a factor in delusional belief

Max Coltheart, Martin Davies

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: In accounts of the two-factor theory of delusional belief, the second factor in this theory has been referred to only in the most general terms, as a failure in the processes of hypothesis evaluation, with no attempt to characterise those processes in any detail. Coltheart and Davies ([2021]. How unexpected observations lead to new beliefs: A Peircean pathway. Consciousness and Cognition, 87, 103037. attempted such a characterisation, proposing a detailed eight-step model of how unexpected observations lead to new beliefs based on the concept of abductive inference as introduced by Charles Sanders Peirce. Methods: In this paper, we apply that model to the explanation of various forms of delusional belief. Results: We provide evidence that in cases of delusion there is a specific failure of the seventh step in our model: the step at which predictions from (delusional) hypotheses are considered in the light of relevant evidence. Conclusions: In the two-factor theory of delusional belief, the second factor consists of a failure to reject hypotheses in the face of disconfirmatory evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-230
Number of pages18
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • abduction
  • bias against disconfirmatory evidence
  • Charles Sanders Peirce
  • Delusion
  • two-factor theory

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