The Pandemic Paranoia Scale (PPS): Factor Structure and Measurement Invariance across Languages

Jess Kingston, Bjorn Schlier, Lyn Ellett, Suzanne So, Brandon Gaudiano, Eric Morris, Tania Lincoln

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an interpersonally threatening context within which other people have become a source of possible threat. This study reports on the development and validation of a self-report measure of pandemic paranoia; that is, heightened levels of suspicion and mistrust towards others due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: An international consortium developed an initial set of 28 items for the Pandemic Paranoia Scale (PPS), which were completed by participants from the UK (n=512), USA (n=535), Germany (n=516), Hong Kong (n=454) and Australia (n=502) using stratified quota sampling (for age, sex, educational attainment) through Qualtrics and translated for Germany and Hong Kong. Results: Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) in the UK sample suggested a 25-item, three-factor solution (Persecutory Threat; Paranoid Conspiracy; Interpersonal Mistrust). Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) on the remaining combined sample showed sufficient model fit in this independent set of data. Measurement invariance analyses suggested configural and metric invariance, but no scalar invariance across cultures/languages. A second-order factor CFA on the whole sample indicated that the three factors showed large loadings on a common second-order pandemic paranoia factor. Analyses also supported the test-retest reliability and internal and convergent validity. Conclusion: The PPS offers an internationally validated and reliable method for assessing paranoia in the context of a pandemic. The PPS has the potential to enhance our understanding of the impact of the pandemic, the nature of paranoia, and to assist in identifying and supporting people affected by pandemic-specific paranoia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Medicine
Early online date9 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Dec 2021

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