Nonclinical paranoia, forgiveness and evaluative beliefs

Emmi Honeybourne

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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It is becoming increasingly accepted that paranoia is common within the general
population and is best understood as existing on a continuum of normal human
experience. More recent studies suggest that nonclinical paranoia is a subject of interest in its own right, having been linked to poorer wellbeing but also having been posited as a potential adaptive and functional trait. Research within the field of paranoia has leant towards a focus on individual differences in affect and cognition and there has been less of a focus on interpersonal factors. One interpersonal factor that has been considered is evaluative beliefs and a clear relationship between negative evaluative beliefs and paranoia has been established. A concept that has received attention in the social psychology literature is forgiveness, a factor that we might expect to be related to paranoia. They share similar characteristics, are both interpersonal in nature and both
involve transgressions. The current study aimed to explore a potential novel
relationship between nonclinical paranoia and forgiveness, to examine whether
forgiveness acts as a mediator between the already established relationship between nonclinical paranoia and negative evaluative beliefs, and finally to utilise the Prisoners Dilemma Game to experimentally examine the impact of a simulated interpersonal transgression on these factors.
Consistent with prediction, the study found evidence of a novel relationship
between nonclinical paranoia and forgiveness. Higher levels of nonclinical trait
paranoia are associated with lower levels of trait forgiveness and state forgiveness following a simulated interpersonal interaction. This finding has potential implications for both the theoretical understanding of the development and maintenance of paranoia and for the clinical treatment of paranoia as an individual symptom. Secondly, the study replicates the already established relationship between nonclinical paranoia and negative evaluative beliefs and implicates forgiveness as a mediating factor in this relationship. Finally, the study demonstrated the utility of the PDG as an experimental paradigm for the investigation of nonclinical paranoia and other interpersonal variables,
forgiveness being one. Collectively, the current findings provide a foundation for further research looking at the role of forgiveness in nonclinical paranoia which could have exciting implications for both our understanding of paranoia overall and for the treatment of this individual symptom in clinical settings.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Ellett, Lyn, Supervisor
Award date1 Nov 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016

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