There is evidence for a group of nonclinical individuals with full-blown, persistent psychotic experiences (PEs) but no need-for-care: they are of particular importance in identifying risk and protective factors for clinical psychosis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether reasoning biases are related to PEs or need-for-care.


Two groups with persistent PEs (clinical; n = 74; nonclinical; n = 92) and a control group without PEs (n = 83) were compared on jumping-to-conclusions (JTC) and belief flexibility. A randomly selected subset of interviews (n = 104) was analyzed to examine differences in experiential and rational reasoning.


As predicted JTC was more common in the clinical than the other 2 groups. Unexpectedly no group differences were observed between clinical and nonclinical groups on measures of belief flexibility. However, the clinical group was less likely to employ rational reasoning, while the nonclinical group was more likely to use experiential reasoning plus a combination of both types of reasoning processes, compared to the other 2 groups.


Reasoning biases differ in groups with PEs with and without need-for-care. JTC is associated with need-for-care rather than with PEs. The ability to invoke rational reasoning processes, together with an absence of JTC, may protect against pathological outcomes of persistent PEs. However, marked use of experiential reasoning is associated with the occurrence of PEs in both clinical and nonclinical groups. Implications for theory development, intervention and further research are discussed.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.