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Virtual reality provides a means of studying paranoid thinking in
controlled laboratory conditions. However, this method has not been used
with a clinical group
To establish the feasibility and safety of using virtual reality
methodology in people with an at-risk mental state and to investigate the
applicability of a cognitive model of paranoia to this group
Twenty-one participants with an at-risk mental state were assessed before
and after entering a virtual reality environment depicting the inside of
an underground train
Virtual reality did not raise levels of distress at the time of testing
or cause adverse experiences over the subsequent week. Individuals
attributed mental states to virtual reality characters including hostile
intent. Persecutory ideation in virtual reality was predicted by higher
levels of trait paranoia, anxiety, stress, immersion in virtual reality,
perseveration and interpersonal sensitivity
Virtual reality is an acceptable experimental technique for use with
individuals with at-risk mental states. Paranoia in virtual reality was
understandable in terms of the cognitive model of persecutory
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