How is paranoia experienced in a student population? A qualitative study of students scoring highly on a paranoia measure

Article


Harper, D. and Timmons, C. 2019. How is paranoia experienced in a student population? A qualitative study of students scoring highly on a paranoia measure. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice.
AuthorsHarper, D. and Timmons, C.
Abstract

Objectives: Recent studies have suggested that students may experience high levels of paranoia. This study aimed to explore both experiences of paranoia and coping strategies in students scoring at high levels on a measure of paranoia.

Design: This was a qualitative study which utilized a quantitative measure to identify potential participants.

Methods: From an overall sample of 174 London-based university students in the UK, a sub-sample of 31 students with the highest total scores on the Green et al Paranoid Thoughts Scale were invited to interview resulting in interviews with seven students (six female, one male) aged between 20-36 (M = 28.14). A Thematic Analysis of the interview transcripts was conducted from a critical realist standpoint.

Results: Two key foci structured the analysis: Perceived causal influences on paranoia (comprised of: ‘historical contexts fostering mistrust’; ‘finding a social situation strange’; ‘anticipating threat’; and ‘evaluating the concern’); and living with paranoia (comprised of ‘effects on everyday life’; and ‘trying to minimise the effects of paranoia and regaining control’).

Conclusions: Key aspects of the findings discussed in the context of the literature include: paranoia as a threat heuristic; the role of internal and external dialogues; the influence of gender on content and the importance of meaning in life as a coping resource.

JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
ISSN2044-8341
Year2019
PublisherWiley
Accepted author manuscript
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Repository staff only
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Anyone
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1111/papt.12250
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/papt.12250
Publication dates
Online04 Sep 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted01 Aug 2019
Deposited13 Aug 2019
Copyright holder© 2019 The Authors.
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