|Aberrant Beliefs and Reasoning|
The book is a new edited text with contributions from a collection of leading authors in the field. An aberrant belief is extreme or unusual in nature. In the most serious cases these beliefs cause emotional distress in those who hold them, and typify the core symptoms of psychological disorders. The issue of whether reasoning plays a role in aberrant beliefs has become increasingly important for psychology, psychiatry and philosophy.
The central question with which the book contends then is whether systematic biases in reasoning or thinking style, leave one vulnerable to the development of aberrant beliefs. In other words, are bizarre, unusual, or distressing beliefs partly caused by biased reasoning? This view is by no means universally accepted: for example, Brendan Maher (1992) famously criticized the nascent work on delusional reasoning whilst reasserting his argument that delusions were simply rational explanations for bizarre hallucinations – that no reasoning bias was needed to explain delusion formation. However, since the emergence of Beck’s cognitive theory of anxiety and depression (e.g. Beck, Emery & Greenberg, 1985), research into reasoning and psychopathology has intensified considerably. A large volume of research literature has been generated on reasoning in delusional and paranormal beliefs as well as in anxiety and phobia.
The book considers several conjectures about the importance of reasoning in aberrant belief. This includes the role of the jumping to conclusion bias in delusions: does the current evidence base support the claim that delusions may form because such people reach conclusions without firstly gathering sufficient evidence on which to base their beliefs? Also considered in the book is whether probabilistic biases, such as misperception of randomness leave one more likely to believe in the paranormal, the role of danger confirming reasoning in phobias, and the controversial notion that people with schizophrenia are less not more prone, to specific forms of reasoning bias. There are chapters exposing new theoretical perspectives on delusional beliefs as well as a review of a reasoning-training programme for people with schizophrenia.
Aberrant Beliefs and Reasoning is the first volume presenting an overview of contemporary research in this growing subject area. It will be essential reading for academics and students in the fields of human reasoning, cognitive psychology and philosophy, and will also be of great interest to clinicians.