The Role Played by Theory of Mind and Empathy in the Feigning of Psychopathology

Di Girolamo, Marzia and Giromini, Luciano and Bosi, Jessica and Warmelink, Lara and La Scala, Ilaria and Loiacono, Caterina and Miraglia, Federica and Zennaro, Alessandro (2022) The Role Played by Theory of Mind and Empathy in the Feigning of Psychopathology. International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, 21 (4). pp. 334-347.

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In this article, we hypothesized that in order to feign mental illness, one would need to have empathy and be able to understand other’s mental states. To test this hypothesis, we asked 432 healthy volunteers to feign depression, PTSD or schizophrenia while completing a self-report test that measures the severity of the feigned condition’s symptoms and the Inventory of Problems – 29 (IOP-29). Additionally, all participants were administered a theory of mind (ToM) task and an empathy measure with the request to respond truthfully. Results from a series of linear regression models revealed that higher cognitive empathy is associated with increased symptom endorsement on self-report symptom questionnaires and higher ToM abilities are associated with less credible feigned profiles, especially in the case of feigned depression.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
International Journal of Forensic Mental Health
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Forensic Mental Health on 26/12/2021, available online:
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Deposited On:
07 Jan 2022 15:25
Last Modified:
17 Jul 2024 23:54