Paranoia may be a significant concern during adolescence, but there has been little research on excessive mistrust in young people. In this longitudinal study we set out to test the predictive ability of a number of cognitive, affective, and social factors in the early development of paranoia in a clinical adolescent population. Thirty four help-seeking adolescents, aged 11-16 years, reporting paranoid thoughts and attending mental health services were recruited. Self-report and interview assessments of paranoia were conducted at baseline. Measures relating to a cognitive model of persecutory delusions were completed. Paranoia was reassessed after three months with thirty three participants. Significant predictors of paranoia persistence were anxiety, depression, worry, negative self-beliefs, perceptual anomalies, insomnia, affective reactivity, bullying, and cyber victimization. No effect was found for reasoning bias or negative perceptions of academic ability, social competence, and physical appearance. In conclusion, many of the maintenance factors implicated in adult paranoia are likely to prove important in the early development of paranoia in young people. Further experimental and treatment studies are now needed to examine the causal role of these factors in the occurrence of paranoia in adolescents.
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Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom. Electronic address: Jessica.email@example.com.