Predictive coding in autism and psychosis : an investigation of need for control, conspiracist ideation, and illusory pattern perceptiog
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- Institutt for psykologi 
Predictions in the current study build on research indicating that the traits of autism (Van de Cruys et al., 2014) and psychosis (Fletcher & Frith, 2009; Frith, 2005) are caused by a predictive coding abnormality. This abnormality leads to an overestimation of prediction error, which according to both proposals leads to feeling a lack of control. Lack of control is in other literature related to endorsing conspiracy beliefs and seeing illusory patterns in noise (see Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). Endorsing conspiracy beliefs depend on attribution of intention (see Brotherton & French, 2015), whereas illusory pattern perception (at least in the task used here) should not rely on this. Mentalising tend to be high in psychosis and low in autism (Abu-Akel, Wood, Hansen, & Apperly, 2015). Thus, it was expected that tendencies towards autism and psychosis were related to an increased need for control, and the compensatory mechanisms of conspiracist thinking and illusory pattern perception, possibly modulated by attribution of intention. Participants consisted of students recruited from NTNU and UIT (n=93 for analyses involving illusory pattern perception; n=111 for the rest). Questionnaires alternated with trials of dot motion animations measuring illusory pattern perception. Participants were asked to determine whether dots moved randomly or with coherence. Using a signal detection approach, false alarms indicated a tendency to see illusory patterns in noise. The conspiracist ideation measure was constructed by extracting suitable items from two existing English conspiracy ideation scales (see Brotherton, French, & Pickering, 2013; Bruder, Haffke, Neave, Nouripanah, & Imhoff, 2013) based on an analysis conducted by Swami et al. (2017). Data was examined using correlational analyses and multiple regression analyses. Findings indicated a positive association between tendencies towards autism and psychosis. Tendencies towards psychosis was also positively related to attribution of intention and conspiracist thinking, which was expected. However, the rest of the data did not show the expected pattern. The relationship between autism and attribution of intention was inconclusive, and need for control and illusory pattern perception was not significantly related to anything. Overall, findings indicate that the measures used to assess these variables should be explored, also, there may be some complex underlying relationships that need further investigation, especially in terms of mentalising in autism, as well as the need for control and illusory pattern perception.