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PERFECT Report Summary

Project ID: 616358
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: United Kingdom

Periodic Report Summary 2 - PERFECT (Pragmatic and epistemic role of factually erroneous cognitions and thoughts)

PERFECT asks whether there are any benefits in adopting beliefs that are either inaccurate or irrationally formed. The project is interested in a range of beliefs and in a range of benefits. Beliefs can describe the past, account for the present, or predict the future, and can be either widespread in the non-clinical population (such as stereotypes and optimistically biased beliefs) or more unusual and symptomatic of mental health issues (such as delusions in schizophrenia and distorted memories in dementia). Benefits can be psychological (related to wellbeing or good functioning), pragmatic (related to success), or epistemic (related to knowledge and understanding).
By drawing attention to both costs and benefits of inaccurate or irrational beliefs, the project produced outputs that: (1) acknowledge and examine the contributions of such beliefs to the way people engage with the surrounding environment, widening the scope of epistemic evaluation in philosophy; (2) enhance our understanding of how beliefs are formed and why they are resistant to change, informing theories in cognitive science; and (3) emphasise the continuity between so-called "normal" and "abnormal" cognition, showing how beliefs in the clinical and non-clinical population can be at the same time false and useful. The project has developed a unique approach to challenging mental health stigma and divisive "us and them" attitudes by shaping public perceptions of cognition, rationality, and mental health. In the first half of the project, PERFECT has achieved all that it promised to and more, delivering more research outputs and taking advantage of more dissemination opportunities than expected, and exercising considerable influence on both academia and policy.

Reported by

United Kingdom
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