Hypochondriasis: the role of fear-confirming reasoning

Peter J. de Jong, Marie-Anne Haenen, Anton Schmidt, Birgit Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated whether hypochondriacal patients-are prone to selectively search for danger-confirming information when asked to judge the validity of conditional rules in the context of general and health threats. Therefore, hypochodtriacal patients (n = 27) and a healthy control group (n = 27) were presented with modified Wason Selection Tasks (WSTs) pertaining to general and health threats. The WSTs contained safety rules (If P then safe) and danger rules (If P then danger). Subjects adopted a verificationistic strategy in case of danger rules and tended to look for falsifications incase of safety rules. This danger-confirming reasoning pattern was similar for both types of contexts and not particularly pronounced in hypochondriacal persons. These findings argue against the idea that such a reasoning pattern directly causes hypochondriasis; Yet, in the presence of anxiogenic (hypochondriasis related) convictions such danger-confirming reasoning pattern logically serves to maintain or even enhance hypochondriacal complaints. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31-Jan-1998
Externally publishedYes

Cite this