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Paranoid thinking, cognitive bias and dangerous neighbourhoods: implications for perception of threat and expectation of victimisation

Jack, Alexander; Egan, Vincent

Authors

Alexander Jack

Vincent Egan



Abstract

Background: Paranoid thinking is prevalent in the non-clinical population and cognitive mechanisms of heuristic reasoning and jumping to conclusions bias contributes to its formation and maintenance.

Aims: This study investigated the degree to which paranoia, perceived environmental risk, heuristic reasoning and jumping to conclusions bias (measured with the beads task) contribute to misinterpretation of neutral stimuli, and whether this informed judgements regarding vulnerability to threat and crime. It is also investigated whether impulsiveness is a confounding factor on the beads task.

Methods: Two hundred participants were recruited using a snowball-sampling method for a quantitative cross-sectional study. Participants reported demographic information, three psychometric questionnaires and two experimental tasks via an online paradigm hosted by the Bristol Online Survey tool.

Results: Participants with high paranoia scores perceived their environment to be more dangerous than those with low scores. Participants with high paranoia scores also overestimated threat in neutral stimuli and had high expectations of future victimisation. Jumping to conclusions on the beads task did not predict fear of crime outcomes, but was predicted by impulsivity.

Conclusion: Participants who demonstrated paranoid thinking were more likely to reside in perceived dangerous neighbourhoods and overestimate threat. While this could indicate a paranoid heuristic, it is a potentially rational response to prior experiences of crime and victimisation. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 1, 2016
Journal International Journal of Social Psychiatry
Print ISSN 0020-7640
Electronic ISSN 0020-7640
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 62
Issue 2
APA6 Citation Jack, A., & Egan, V. (2016). Paranoid thinking, cognitive bias and dangerous neighbourhoods: implications for perception of threat and expectation of victimisation. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 62(2), doi:10.1177/0020764015599998
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0020764015599998
Keywords Paranoia, Jumping to conclusions, Threat, Victimisation, Heuristic reasoning
Publisher URL http://isp.sagepub.com/content/62/2/123.abstract
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf
Additional Information Copyright 2016 Sage Publications

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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