Barbara Lopes and Jose Augusto Veiga Pinto-Gouveia
Background: Theoretical models of persecutory delusions have emphasized the impact of negative emotion namely anxiety at the early stages of symptom formation. Also, studies on persecutory delusions have discovered that trait anger is associated to the presence of paranoid delusions.
Method: We did a quasi experimental study that induced social stress. Firstly we constituted three groups based on standardized cut off scores for measures of paranoia, social anxiety and depression: a paranoia group vs. a socially anxious group vs. a control group. We then measured the psychological characteristics of the three groups by self-report at time 1 (before the experiment). Participants were randomly assigned to the conditions of success vs. failure of personal performance in a computer game task. After the experience (time 2) participant’s positive vs. negative emotional reactions to performance and their levels of multidimensional paranoid ideation, anger and anxiety were measured by self-report.
Results: A MANCOVA revealed a statistically significant interaction between group x condition for the emotional reactions to performance but not for the paranoid ideation at time 2. Results further revealed that hostility acted as a vulnerability factor, presenting a main statistically significant effect on paranoid reactions (time 2) and interacted with the independent variables of group belonging and experimental condition for an increase on the frequency of paranoid ideation, whereas anxiety interacted with group and condition for an increase of the distress of paranoid ideation.
Conclusions: The importance of temperamental hostility and anxiety suggest clinical interventions that would help individuals to deal with their anger and anxiety preventing the development and maintenance of paranoid ideation.PDF
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