Background. It has been proposed that inferences about the mental states of others are drawn after a referral to autobiographical memory. This study explored the relationship between autobiographical memory retrieval and performance on tests of theory of mind in people with schizophrenia.
Method. Fifty-nine people with a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia and 44 healthy participants matched for age, sex and estimated IQ were given the Autobiographical Memory Interview (AMI), two measures of theory of mind (ToM) and a logical memory test.
Results. There was clear evidence that the people with schizophrenia were under-performing on all tasks. Within the schizophrenia sample, robust relationships existed between the total scores achieved on the AMI and the ToM tasks. Furthermore, there was evidence that the participants with schizophrenia had a tendency to recollect odd or negative events when prompted by the standard questions of the AMI.
Conclusions. The results of this study indicate that when people with schizophrenia attempt to think about the beliefs and intentions of others they use analogical reasoning. Whether this approach is also adopted by other clinical and normal adult groups is a question for future research.