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Self-Confidence and Paranoia: An Experimental Study Using an Immersive Virtual Reality Social Situation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 November 2014

Stephanie Atherton
Affiliation:
University of Oxford, UK
Angus Antley
Affiliation:
University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, UK
Nicole Evans
Affiliation:
University of Oxford, UK
Emma Cernis
Affiliation:
University of Oxford, UK
Rachel Lister
Affiliation:
University of Oxford, UK
Graham Dunn
Affiliation:
University of Manchester, and MRC NW Hub for Trials Methodology Research, Manchester, UK
Mel Slater
Affiliation:
University College London, UK and University of Barcelona, Spain
Daniel Freeman
Affiliation:
University of Oxford, UK
Corresponding

Abstract

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.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2014 

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