Moment-to-moment associations between negative affect, aberrant salience, and paranoia

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Introduction: There is an ongoing debate about whether negative affect are consequences or triggers of paranoid thinking. It has also been suggested that aberrant salience is central to the development of delusions. This study modelled the moment-to-moment relationships between negative affect, aberrant salience, and paranoia in acute inpatients with psychosis.

Methods: Participants with active paranoid delusions were assessed using clinical rating scales and experience sampling method (ESM) over 14 days. ESM data were analysed using time-lagged multilevel regression modelling.

Results: Both negative affect and aberrant salience predicted an increase in paranoia at the next time point. Conversely, the level of paranoia did not predict subsequent changes in negative affect or aberrant salience. Negative affect predicted an increase in aberrant salience at the next time point, and vice versa.

Conclusions: Negative affect and aberrant salience appear to drive and exacerbate paranoia, rather than being merely the sequelae of the symptom. Our results suggest both direct and indirect (via aberrant salience) pathways from negative affect to paranoia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-306
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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