Cognitive styles and psychotic experiences in a community sample

Sarah A Sullivan, Richard Bentall, Charles Fernyhough, Rebecca M Pearson, Stanley Zammit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

4 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction. In clinical populations paranoid delusions are associated with making global, stable and external attributions for negative events. Paranoia is common in community samples but it is not known whether it is associated with a similar cognitive style. This study investigates the association between cognitive style and paranoia in a large community sample of adults.
Methods. 2694 young adults (mean age 17.8 SD 4.6) from the ALSPAC cohort provided data on psychotic experiences and cognitive styles. Psychotic experiences were assessed using a semi-structured interview and cognitive style was assessed using the Cognitive Styles Questionnaire-short form (CSQ-sf) on the same occasion. Logistic regression was used to investigate associations between paranoia and total and CSQ-sf domain scores (global, stable, self, external). The role of concurrent self-reported depressive symptoms in the association was explored.
Results. Total CSQ-sf scores (adjusted OR 1.69 95% CI 1.29, 2.22), as well as global (OR 1.56 95% CI 1.17, 2.08), stable (OR 1.56 95% CI 1.17, 2.08) and self (OR 1.37 95% CI 1.05, 1.79) domains were associated with paranoia, though associations remained only for Total CSQ-sf score and the global domain after additional adjustment for self-reported depression. There was no association between paranoia and external cognitive style (OR 1.10 95% CI 0.83, 1.47).
Conclusion. Community paranoia is associated with a global rather than an external cognitive style. External attributional biases may be a characteristic of more severe paranoid beliefs. Further studies are required to determine the role of depression in the association between cognitive style and paranoia.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere80055
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2013

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