Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

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Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (2009), 37:25-38 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2008

Research Article

Strategic Cognition in Paranoia: The Use of Thought Control Strategies in a Non-Clinical Population

Katherine Newman Taylora1 c1, Alexandra Gravesa2 and Luisa Stopaa3

a1 Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust, UK
a2 University of Bath, UK
a3 University of Southampton, UK
Article author query
taylor kn [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
graves a [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
stopa l [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


Background: Recent work in the area of cognition and emotion has focused on the process as well as the content of thought. Metacognitive approaches have included studies of people's relationship with internal experience (cf. Teasdale and Barnard, 1993), and the overarching beliefs that guide allocation of internal resources to manage distress (cf. Wells, 2000). At the same time, cognitive models of psychosis have emphasized the clinical value of a multidimensional understanding of paranoia (Chadwick, 2006; Freeman and Garety, 2004b). Method: This study examined paranoia in a non-clinical group, specifically (i) the relationship between a single measure of trait paranoia and dimensions of paranoid thought frequency, belief conviction and distress, and (ii) the metacognitive strategies that people use. It was predicted that trait paranoia would be associated with (i) dimensions of thought frequency, belief conviction and distress, and (ii) the internal strategies of “punishment” and “worry.” Results: Regression analyses showed that trait paranoia uniquely predicted frequency, conviction and distress associated with paranoid thoughts. Trait paranoia accounted for the use of “reappraisal”, whereas “punishment” and “worry” were accounted for by anxiety. Conclusions: The implications for clinical work and further research are discussed.

Keywords:Paranoia; psychosis; metacognition; Paranoid Cognitions Questionnaire


c1 Reprint requests to Katherine Newman Taylor, Department of Psychiatry, Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton SO14 0YG, UK. E-mail: