Psychotic-Like-Experiences (PLEs) in perinatal women: The role of psychological distress and cognitive biases

Katy Bovis

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

305 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Accurate and timely identification of emerging psychopathology in the perinatal period has become a U.K. healthcare priority. Psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) are subclinical psychotic experiences such as delusional beliefs and hallucinations. Recently greater levels of PLEs have been associated with greater levels of non-psychotic affective psychopathology, suggesting PLEs could be useful clinical makers of psychopathology severity. PLEs have been found to be prevalent in the perinatal period, where greater affective psychopathology predicted greater levels of PLEs. Specific cognitive biases have been associated with PLEs in the general population and could be underpin the relationship between PLEs and affective psychopathology.
Objective: The current study aims to explore whether PLEs in the perinatal population are associated with distress and psychosis-related cognitive biases and whether these biases predicted levels of PLEs and distress.
Methods: In a cross-sectional design, 144 female participants were recruited via social media and General Practice (GP) surgeries in the U.K. and completed an online survey which included measures of PLEs (delusional and hallucinatory experiences), distress and psychosis-related cognitive biases, including Threatening Events (TE), Anomalous Perceptions (AP) and inflated responsibility (RAS).
Results: Endorsement rates of PLEs were lower compared to previous perinatal samples and community norms. No differences were found between levels of delusions pre to postnatally, but hallucinations were found to decrease pre to postnatally, partly supporting previous findings. Jumping-to-conclusions and Intentionalising were the most commonly reported cognitive bias. Distress was significantly correlated with PLEs and cognitive biases of AP, RAS and dichotomous thinking (DT). RAS was a unique predictor of PLEs. No specific cognitive bias was a unique significant predictor of distress. Secondary moderation analysis revealed that pre or postnatal groups or primiparity did not significantly contribute to an increase in the variance explained.
Conclusion: PLEs could be useful tools in identifying women at-risk of greater affective psychopathology in the perinatal period. RAS was particularly associated with PLEs and merits further exploration. Future longitudinal research is needed to establish if causal links exist between PLEs and distress.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Luzon, Olga, Supervisor
Publication statusUnpublished - 12 Sept 2019


  • Perinatal mental health
  • Psychotic like experiences

Cite this