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Title: The impact of attachment and interpersonal contingency on trust in people with psychosis and paranoia
Author: Watchorn, Kate
ISNI:       0000 0005 0288 4572
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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Aims: Interpersonal contingency plays an important role in attachment formation. Those with high paranoia have a tendency to over-attribute hostile intentionality in behavioural contingency. This study aimed to use virtual reality to investigate potential associations between attachment, contingency and trust in a psychosis sample. Method: A sample of 22 early intervention psychosis participants with active paranoia completed a series of questionnaires assessing attachment style and psychosis symptoms. During a brief virtual reality scenario, participants engaged in a social interaction with an avatar. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two interpersonal contingency conditions, in which the avatar would be more or less responsive in body language. Both subjective (self-report) and objective (interpersonal distance) indicators of trust were recorded. Results: Fearful attachment was the most predominant attachment style. A significant correlation was found between fearful attachment and trusting behaviour, where more fearful participants would stand further away from the avatar. The difference in interpersonal distance between contingency groups approached significance, indicating that participants found the highly responsive avatar less trustworthy. Findings were less pronounced for subjective trust outcomes, although some trends appeared to be emerging through exploratory graphical analysis. Conclusions: The present findings are considered in the context of a lack of statistical power. Attachment insecurity appears to influence trust in social interactions with strangers. Findings are interpreted in light of the attachment behavioural system. Conceptual mechanisms are explored to understand the aversion to interpersonal contingency observed in the current highly paranoid sample. Future directions for research and clinical implications are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available