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An evolutionary perspective on paranoia

Raihani, NJ; Bell, V; (2018) An evolutionary perspective on paranoia. Nature Human Behaviour 10.1038/s41562-018-0495-0. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Paranoia is the most common symptom of psychosis but paranoid concerns occur throughout the general population. Here, we argue for an evolutionary approach to paranoia across the spectrum of severity that accounts for its complex social phenomenology — including the perception of conspiracy and selective identification of perceived persecutors — and considers how it can be understood in light of our evolved social cognition. We argue that the presence of coalitions and coordination between groups in competitive situations could favour psychological mechanisms that detect, anticipate and avoid social threats. Our hypothesis makes testable predictions about the environments in which paranoia should be most common as well as the developmental trajectory of paranoia across the lifespan. We suggest that paranoia should not solely be viewed as a pathological symptom of a mental disorder but also as a part of a normally functioning human psychology.

Type: Article
Title: An evolutionary perspective on paranoia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41562-018-0495-0
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-018-0495-0
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10065456
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