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Title: Paranoia and the role of contingency in the experience of trust and perceived empathy in interpersonal encounters
Author: Elenbaas, M.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis addresses the interpersonal determinants of paranoid ideation. Part one presents a systematic review of the empirical literature on the relationship between childhood adversity and paranoia. It considers whether there is an association between direct experience of interpersonal adversity and paranoia, and whether paranoia is specifically associated with a type of early interpersonal adversity. The data suggest that there is inconclusive evidence of a relationship, but support was found for a more consistent association between paranoia and emotional abuse. Possible mechanisms are considered, and results are discussed in the context of methodological limitations and the need for further investigations in this area. Part two reports on an empirical virtual reality study investigating the role of paranoia and interpersonal contingency in the experience of trust and perceived empathy in encounters with unfamiliar others, and exploring associations with other factors, including attachment history and anxiety. Sixty-one healthy male participants with varying levels of trait paranoia interviewed a virtual flatmate whose non-verbal responses were either contingent, or non-contingent in relation to them. Evidence was found for an interaction between interpersonal contingency and trait paranoia in influencing explicit trust of the avatar, but not implicit trust (as assessed by distance kept from the avatar) or perceived avatar empathy. Those high in paranoia perceived the contingent avatar as more trustworthy, whereas there was evidence of greater trust towards the non-contingent avatar in those low in paranoia. Dismissive attachment predicted greater explicit trust and perceived empathy, but reduced implicit trust. Part three is a critical appraisal of the empirical research, including personal reflections on the research process. It considers the challenges of recruitment across the paranoia continuum and the use of virtual reality technology in research investigating interpersonal encounters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available