Introduction: Auditory hallucinations are associated with signal detection biases. We examine the extent to which suggestions influence performance on a signal detection task (SDT) in highly hallucination-prone and low hallucination-prone students. We also explore the relationship between trait suggestibility, dissociation and hallucination proneness.
Method: In two experiments, students completed on-line measures of hallucination proneness (the revised Launay–Slade Hallucination Scale; LSHS-R), trait suggestibility (Inventory of Suggestibility) and dissociation (Dissociative Experiences Scale-II). Students in the upper and lower tertiles of the LSHS-R performed an auditory SDT. Prior to the task, suggestions were made pertaining to the number of expected targets (Experiment 1, N = 60: high vs. low suggestions; Experiment 2, N = 62, no suggestion vs. high suggestion vs. no voice suggestion).
Results: Correlational and regression analyses indicated that trait suggestibility and dissociation predicted hallucination proneness. Highly hallucination-prone students showed a higher SDT bias in both studies. In Experiment 1, both bias scores were significantly affected by suggestions to the same degree. In Experiment 2, highly hallucination-prone students were more reactive to the high suggestion condition than the controls.
Conclusion: Suggestions may affect source-monitoring judgments, and this effect may be greater in those who have a predisposition towards hallucinatory experiences.