An eye tracking study on feigned schizophrenia

Francesca Ales, Luciano Giromini, Lara Warmelink, Megan Polden, Thomas Wilcockson, Claire Kelly, Christina Winters, Alessandro Zennaro, Trevor Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research on malingering detection has not yet taken full advantage of eye tracking technology. In particular, while several studies indicate that schizophrenic patients behave notably differently from controls on specific oculomotor tasks, no study has yet investigated whether experimental feigners could reproduce those behaviors, if coached to do so. Due to the automatic nature of eye movements, we anticipated that eye tracking analyses would help detecting feigned schizophrenic problems. To test this hypothesis, we recorded the eye movements of 83 adult UK volunteers, and tested whether eye movements of healthy volunteers instructed to feign schizophrenia ( n = 43) would differ from those of honest controls ( n = 40), while engaging in smooth pursuit and pro- and anti-saccade tasks. Additionally, results from our investigation were also compared against previously published data observed in patients with schizophrenia performing similar oculomotor tasks. Data analysis showed that eye movements of experimental feigners (a) only partially differed from those of controls and (b) did not closely resemble those from schizophrenic patients reported in previously published papers. Taken together, these results suggest that examination of eye movements does have the potential to help detecting feigned schizophrenia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-226
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological Injury and Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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