The present study examined the incidence of paranoid ideation in a nonclinical population. A sample of 324 college students completed a questionnaire assessing their personal experiences of paranoia, with an emphasis on the cognitive, behavioral, and affective components of their experience. They also completed a general measure of paranoia in nonclinical samples, the Fenigstein and Vanable Paranoia Scale, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. A total of 153 participants reported an experience of paranoia, which included a clear statement of planned intention to harm. This group scored significantly higher on the Paranoia Scale than those who reported no experience of paranoia. Furthermore, greater levels of paranoid ideation were associated with lower self-esteem. The present findings suggest that paranoia is a common human experience, and are consistent with the idea of continuity between normal and abnormal experience.
1 School of Psychology, Washington Singer Laboratories, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom.
2 Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, United Kingdom.
3 University of Southampton and Department of Psychology, Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton, SO14 6NG, UK. Send reprints to Dr. Chadwick.
The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Economic and Social Research Council.