Introduction Some studies suggest that lexical recognition is impaired in people with schizophrenia, psychopathy and/or antisocial personality disorders, but not affective disorders. We examined the extent to which various traits dimensionally linked to one or more of these disorders are associated with lexical recognition performance in the general population.
Methods Seventy-eight healthy English-speaking participants completed self-report measures of schizotypy, psychopathy, impulsivity, depression, anxiety and stress. All participants were assessed on a one-choice variant of a lexical decision task (LDT).
Results Meanness and Boldness traits of psychopathy (Triarchic Psychopathy Measure), and positive schizotypy (Unusual Experiences, Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences) were associated with poor word-nonword accuracy, and predicted a significant amount of unique variance (Meanness, 12%; Boldness, 4.8%; Positive Schizotypy, 4.4%; total 21%) in performance. Higher motor impulsivity predicted 30% of the variance in low-frequency words recognition accuracy, but only in non-native English speakers. Affective traits were not associated with LDT performance.
Conclusion Psychopathic traits show stronger negative associations with lexical recognition performance than schizotypal traits, and impulsivity may differently influence lexical decision performance in native and non-native speakers. Further studies are needed to replicate these findings, especially the influence of language familiarity in the impulsivity-performance relationship, and to clarify the influence of corresponding symptom dimensions in lexical recognition abilities, taking language familiarity, migration status, and comorbidity into account, in people with schizophrenia, psychopathy, and/or antisocial personality disorders.