Adult attachment and paranoia: an experimental investigation

Jane Hutton, Katherine Berry, Lyn Ellett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Downloads (Pure)


Attachment theory may develop understanding of the occurrence and maintenance of persecutory delusions. This study investigates the role of dispositional attachment and contextually primed secure base attachment representations in the occurrence of paranoid thinking. Sixty participants were randomly allocated to one of three conditions: a secure attachment priming condition, a positive affect condition, or a neutral control condition. Following priming, all participants were exposed to a paranoia induction. State paranoia was measured at baseline and following the paranoia induction. Dispositional insecure attachment was associated with both trait and state paranoid thinking. Contrary to predictions, the secure attachment prime did not appear to buffer paranoid thinking and had a negative impact for participants with high levels of attachment anxiety, highlighting the potentially aversive effects of exposure to secure attachment material in those with existing insecure attachment styles.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalThe Cognitive Behaviour Therapist
Issue numbere4
Early online date21 Jul 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2017

Cite this