Schizophrenia and Increased Distrust-Based Competitiveness in Interpersonal Interactions: A Serial Process Model

Lyn Ellett, Tim Wildschut, Paul Chadwick

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Abstract

Background and Hypothesis
Game theory paradigms, such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game (PDG), have been used to study nonclinical paranoia, though research using clinical populations has been scarce. We test our novel theoretical model that schizophrenia leads to competitiveness in interpersonal interactions, and that this link is serially mediated by trait paranoia, state paranoia, and distrust.
Study Design
In this quasi-experimental study, individuals with schizophrenia spectrum diagnoses with current persecutory delusions (n = 46) and a nonclinical control group (n = 43) played the PDG, and completed measures of trait paranoia, state paranoia, and distrust.
Study Results
Individuals with schizophrenia competed more in the PDG than the control group. Supporting our theoretical model, all direct effects were significant: schizophrenia was associated with higher trait paranoia (H1); trait paranoia predicted state paranoia in the PDG (H2); state paranoia in the PDG predicted distrust of the opponent in the PDG (H3); and distrust predicted competition in the PDG (H4). The hypothesized indirect effect of schizophrenia on competition in the PDG via trait paranoia, state paranoia, and distrust was supported in a serial mediation model (H5).
Conclusions
The findings make clear theoretical and methodological contributions. We provide the first evidence for a theoretical process model by which schizophrenia leads to competitiveness in interpersonal interactions via trait paranoia, state paranoia, and distrust. Game theory paradigms, and the PDG in particular, are important for advancing theory and research on paranoia as it occurs in both clinical and nonclinical populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1088-1094
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Volume49
Issue number4
Early online date13 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding statement
No funding to declare.

Keywords

  • competition
  • distrust
  • paranoia
  • persecutory delusions
  • prisoner's dilemma game
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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