Factor Structure of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test: Dimensions of Deficit in Schizophrenia

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The aim of this study was to explore the factorial structure of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and to identify the dimensions of deficit in schizophrenia. WCST scores in patients with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-related psychosis (n = 292), 1st degree relatives of schizophrenic patients (n = 91), and normal controls (n = 141) were subjected to a principal factor analysis followed by orthogonal rotation. This led to 3 factors, perseveration, failure to maintain set, and idiosyncratic sorting. The detected factor structure was found to be invariant across the schizophrenic and control subsamples. Moreover, it replicated previous findings from 2 smaller samples. Only perseverations and, to a lesser degree, idiosyncratic sorting appeared to differentiate schizophrenic patients from comparisons. Only perseveration had good sensitivity and specificity, as well as the most robust significant correlations with estimates of IQ, attention, and other measures of executive functioning. Thus, perseveration appears to be the most diagnostically useful and characteristic WCST feature of schizophrenia.

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