Leading theoretical models of psychosis implicate a wide range of psychological factors in the development of positive symptoms. Ambulatory assessment allows us to repeatedly assess people’s mental experiences within and across days to explore putative moment-to-moment prospective relationships that impact the onset and exacerbation of positive symptoms. This study used experience sampling methodology to examine the putative temporal associations of both risk and protective factors (negative emotional states, stress, self-esteem, and social appraisals) with the experience of paranoia and other positive psychotic-like experiences (PLE) in daily-life. A combined sample of 178 participants including 65 high-schizotypy, 74 at-risk mental states for psychosis, and 39 first-episode psychosis individuals was assessed repeatedly over seven consecutive days. Sadness, anxiety, stress, and negative social appraisals predicted higher levels of subsequent paranoia and PLE. In contrast, self-esteem and subjective appraisals of social support and social closeness predicted lower levels of paranoia and PLE. Most findings did not vary across subclinical, at-risk, and clinical levels of psychosis expression. Results support psychological models of psychosis and provide new evidence to disentangle psychological factors involved in the mechanistic pathways to positive symptoms. The findings can help the design of ecological momentary interventions delivered in real-time aimed at buffering psychological mechanisms that promote psychotic symptoms and strengthening causal mechanisms that protect from the development of positive symptoms. Finally, findings suggest that highly similar psychological mechanisms are implicated in the development of psychotic experiences across nonclinical, subclinical, and clinical expressions of schizotypy.
Monsonet, M., Kwapil, T. R., & Barrantes-Vidal, N. (2021). A Time-Lagged Study of Predictors of Paranoia and Psychotic-Like Experiences in Daily Life Across the Schizotypy Continuum. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/abn0000726
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