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April 1974

Semantic Misinterpretations of Ambiguous Communications in Schizophrenia

Author Affiliations

From the Bureau of Research and Training (Mental Health), Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, Philadelphia.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;30(4):435-440. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760100009002

Research into the primary-secondary dimension of miscommunications has indicated that schizophrenics commit more primary than secondary errors and that they commit more of both of these errors than do nonschizophrenics. This study, motivated by the need to delineate the roles played by the ambiguity of communications used in tests and by the chronicity of the schizophrenic's thought disorder, utilized 24 noun homographs in a 48-item interpretation Test.

The test was scored for primary, secondary, concrete, and abstract errors. A total of 20 chronic schizophrenics, 20 acute schizophrenics, and 20 nonschizophrenics, matched for vocabulary level, highest educational grade attained, and parental social class, were employed.

Schizophrenics committed more abstract and overall errors than did the nonschizophrenics. The schizophrenics also committed more abstract than concrete errors. Contrary to previous research, a greater primacy error preference for schizophrenics was not obtained.

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