Paranoid thinking as a function of minority group status and intersectionality: An international examination of the role of negative beliefs

Jess Kingston, Bjorn Schlier, Tania Lincoln, Suzanne So, Brandon Gaudiano, E Morris, Peter Phiri, Lyn Ellett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Paranoia is higher in minority group individuals, especially those reporting intersecting aspects of difference. High negative and low positive self and other beliefs, and low social rank, are predictive of paranoia overtime; however, data is typically from majority group participants. This study examined whether social defeat or healthy cultural mistrust best characterises paranoia in minority groups.
Study Design. Using cross-sectional, survey design, with a large (n=2510) international sample, moderation analyses (PROCESS) examined whether self and other beliefs, and perceived social rank, operate similarly or differently in minority versus majority group participants. Specifically, we tested whether beliefs moderated the influence of minority group, and intersecting aspects of difference, on paranoia.
Study Results. Paranoia was consistently higher in participants from minority versus majority groups and level of paranoid thinking was significantly higher at each level of the intersectionality index. Negative self/other beliefs were associated with elevated paranoia in all participants. However, in support of the notion of healthy cultural mistrust, low social rank and low positive self/other beliefs were significantly associated with paranoia in majority group participants but unrelated to paranoia in respective minority group members.
Conclusions. Although mixed, our findings signal the need to consider healthy cultural mistrust when examining paranoia in minority groups and bring into question whether “paranoia” accurately describes the experiences of marginalised individuals, at least at low levels of severity. Further research on paranoia in minority groups is crucial to developing culturally appropriate ways of understanding people’s experiences in the context of victimisation, discrimination and difference.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbersbad027
JournalSchizophrenia bulletin
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2023


  • Paranoia
  • minority group
  • negative beliefs
  • positive beliefs
  • social rank

Cite this