Paranoia, persecutory delusions and attributional biases.

Ryan McKay, Robyn Langdon, Max Coltheart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An influential model of persecutory delusions put forward by Bentall and colleagues hypothesizes that persecutory-deluded patients avoid the activation of negative self-beliefs by making externalising, personalising attributions for negative events. The first study reported here used a new instrument for the measurement of persecutory ideation, the Paranoid, Persecutory and
Delusion-Proneness Questionnaire, to investigate whether attributional biases are associated with subclinical persecutory ideation. The second study extended this investigation by re-examining associations between attributional biases and persecutory delusions. Both studies used the Internal, Personal and Situational Attributions Questionnaire to measure attributional style. No evidence was found for a connection between attributional biases and subclinical persecutory ideation. Furthermore, there was no support for an association between persecutory delusions and an externalising bias, and only marginal support for
the hypothesized relationship between persecutory delusions and a personalising bias. These results suggest that the putative link between persecutory ideation and attributional biases only manifests (if at all) when persecutory ideation is of delusional intensity, and that it is confined to a personalising bias.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-245
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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