The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree? Paranoia and Safety Behaviours in Adolescent-Parent-Dyads

Sven Schonig, Elizabeth Thompson, Jess Kingston, Brandon Gaudiano, Lyn Ellett, Katarina Krkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Paranoia is a common experience in adolescence that may entail the use of safety behaviours (e.g. avoidance), which are assumed to maintain paranoia in the long run. As the development of paranoia and related safety behaviours in youth may be influenced by their caregivers, we aimed to investigate the associations of paranoia and safety behaviours in adolescents and their parents. Adolescents from the general population aged 14–17 and one of their parents (N = 142 dyads) were recruited via Qualtrics to complete online surveys including measures of paranoia, safety behaviour use, anxiety, and demographics. We fitted an Actor-Partner-Interdependence Model (APIM) for testing dyadic parent–child interaction by using structural equation modelling and controlled for adolescents’ and parents’ anxiety. Results indicated that paranoia positively predicted safety behaviour use in adolescents and in parents. There were significant positive intra-dyad (i.e. parent-adolescent) correlations for both paranoia and safety behaviour use. One partner effect was significant: parental paranoia positively predicted the safety behaviour use of their adolescent child. Conversely, adolescents’ paranoia did not predict their parents’ safety behaviour use. Our findings corroborate prior research demonstrating an association between paranoia and safety behaviours among adults, and extend this association to adolescents. Children of parents experiencing paranoia are at increased risk of developing paranoia and safety behaviours, which indicates the need for interventions that target paranoia and safety behaviours in family systems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2023

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