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BACKGROUND: Paranoia may build directly upon negative thoughts about the self. There have been few direct experimental tests of this hypothesis. AIMS: The aim of the study was to test the immediate effects of manipulating self-esteem in individuals vulnerable to paranoia. METHOD: A two condition cross-over experimental test was conducted. The participants were 26 males reporting paranoid ideation in the past month. Each participant experienced a neutral immersive virtual reality (VR) social environment twice. Before VR participants received a low self-confidence manipulation or a high self-confidence manipulation. The order of manipulation type was randomized. Paranoia about the VR avatars was assessed. RESULTS: The low self-confidence manipulation, relative to the high self-confidence manipulation, led to significantly more negative social comparison in virtual reality and higher levels of paranoia. CONCLUSIONS: Level of self-confidence affects the occurrence of paranoia in vulnerable individuals. The clinical implication is that interventions designed to improve self-confidence may reduce persecutory ideation.

Original publication

DOI

10.1017/S1352465814000496

Type

Journal article

Journal

Behav Cogn Psychother

Publication Date

01/2016

Volume

44

Pages

56 - 64

Keywords

Delusions, persecutory delusions, self-esteem, Adult, Delusions, Emotions, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Paranoid Disorders, Self Concept, Social Behavior, Social Environment, Surveys and Questionnaires, User-Computer Interface