A continuum of suspiciousness and its relation to schizotypy and social anxiety

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Leslie H. Brown (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Thomas R. Kwapil

Abstract: Paranoia, a continuum of clinical and subclinical experiences in which other people are assumed or suspected to have negative and harmful intentions, is a key symptom of schizotypy (including schizophrenia spectrum disorders). Subclinical paranoia is less well-understood than its clinical expression, but is estimated to occur in around 10% of the general population and is a source of social impairment. Paranoia also shares features with social anxiety, such as social discomfort and fear of humiliation in social situations; however, paranoia is differentiated from social anxiety by the belief that other's motives are malevolent. The current research examined the nature, boundaries, and expression of paranoia across a broad continuum of severity by assessing its relation to schizotypy and social anxiety. In the first study, 862 college students completed measures of paranoia, social anxiety, and schizotypy in order to test hypothesized models of the relation of these constructs using confirmatory factor analyses. As hypothesized, the data were best described by a four factor model including positive schizotypy, negative schizotypy, social anxiety, and paranoia. Furthermore, paranoia was more strongly associated with positive schizotypy than with the other factors. The second study employed experience sampling methodology to examine the expression of paranoia and social anxiety in daily life in a subset of 240 participants. Paranoia and social anxiety were both associated with more daily reports of negative affect, self-consciousness, and negative social perceptions. Paranoia--but not social anxiety--was characterized by more anger, persecutory beliefs, and self-reference in daily life. People higher in social anxiety experienced improvements in mood when in close social encounters; relationships between mood and the situation did not change across levels of paranoia. Identification and study of paranoia can clarify the role of environmental factors that contribute to decompensation into schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and can lead to better targets for prophylactic interventions used to prevent the development of clinical disorders.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Ecological momentary assessment, Experience sampling method, Paranoia, Persecutory delusions, Social anxiety
Schizotypal personality disorder.
Anxiety $x Social aspects

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