Paranoid explanations of experience: A novel experimental study

Green, Catherine E. L., Freeman, Daniel, Kuipers, Elizabeth, Bebbington, Paul, Fowler, David, Dunn, Graham and Garety, Philippa A. (2011) Paranoid explanations of experience: A novel experimental study. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 39 (01). pp. 21-34. ISSN 1352-4658

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Background: Paranoia is a common experience in the non-clinical population. We use a novel experimental methodology to investigate paranoid ideas in individuals without a history of mental illness. Aims: We aimed to determine whether this paradigm could elicit unfounded paranoid thoughts and whether these thoughts could be predicted by factors from a cognitive model. Method: Fifty-eight individuals took part and completed measures assessing trait paranoia, mood, self and other schema and attributional style. They were exposed to two experimental events: 1) an interruption to the testing session by a stooge, and 2) a recording of laughter played outside the testing room and subsequently asked about their explanations for these events. Results: 15.5% (n = 9) of the sample gave a paranoid explanation for at least one of the experimental events. The remainder reported generally neutral explanations. Individuals with a paranoid explanation reported significantly higher levels of trait paranoia. Factors predictive of a paranoid interpretation were interpersonal sensitivity and attributional style. Conclusions: The results show that spontaneous paranoid explanations can be elicited in non-clinical individuals, even for quite neutral events. In line with current theories, the findings suggest that emotional processes contribute to paranoid interpretations of events, although, as a novel study with a modest sample, it requires replication.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Groups > Psychological Sciences (former - to 2018)
Depositing User: Rhiannon Harvey
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2011 08:17
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2022 00:46
DOI: 10.1017/S1352465810000457

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