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How Do People with Persecutory Delusions Evaluate Threat in a Controlled Social Environment? A Qualitative Study Using Virtual Reality

Fornells-Ambrojo, M; Freeman, D; Slater, M; Swapp, D; Antley, A; Barker, C; (2015) How Do People with Persecutory Delusions Evaluate Threat in a Controlled Social Environment? A Qualitative Study Using Virtual Reality. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy , 43 (1) pp. 89-107. 10.1017/S1352465813000830. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Environmental factors have been associated with psychosis but there is little qualitative research looking at how the ongoing interaction between individual and environment maintains psychotic symptoms. AIMS: The current study investigates how people with persecutory delusions interpret events in a virtual neutral social environment using qualitative methodology. METHOD: 20 participants with persecutory delusions and 20 controls entered a virtual underground train containing neutral characters. Under these circumstances, people with persecutory delusions reported similar levels of paranoia as non-clinical participants. The transcripts of a post-virtual reality interview of the first 10 participants in each group were analysed. RESULTS: Thematic analyses of interviews focusing on the decision making process associated with attributing intentions of computer-generated characters revealed 11 themes grouped in 3 main categories (evidence in favour of paranoid appraisals, evidence against paranoid appraisals, other behaviour). CONCLUSIONS: People with current persecutory delusions are able to use a range of similar strategies to healthy volunteers when making judgements about potential threat in a neutral environment that does not elicit anxiety, but they are less likely than controls to engage in active hypothesis-testing and instead favour experiencing “affect” as evidence of persecutory intention.

Type: Article
Title: How Do People with Persecutory Delusions Evaluate Threat in a Controlled Social Environment? A Qualitative Study Using Virtual Reality
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S1352465813000830
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1352465813000830
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Paranoia, persecutory delusions, safety behaviours, cognitive behaviour therapy for psychosis, virtual reality
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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 > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10073450
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