Priming to induce paranoid thought in a non clinical population

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2013:191:95-9.


Freeman et al. reported that a substantial minority of the general population has paranoid thoughts while exposed in a virtual environment. This suggested that in a development phase of a virtual reality exposure system for paranoid patients initially a non-clinical sample could be used to evaluate the system's ability to induce paranoid thoughts. To increase the efficiency of such an evaluation, this paper takes the position that when appropriately primed a larger group of a non-clinical sample will display paranoid thoughts. A 2-by-2 experiment was conducted with priming for insecurity and vigilance as a within-subject factor and prior-paranoid thoughts (low or high) as a between-subjects factor. Before exposure into the virtual world, participants (n=24) were shown a video and read a text about violence or about mountain animals. While exposed, participants were asked to comment freely on their virtual environment. The results of the experiment confirmed that exposure in a virtual environment could induce paranoid thought. In addition, priming with an aim to create a feeling of insecurity and vigilance increased paranoid comments in the non-clinical group that otherwise would less often exhibit ideas of persecution.

MeSH terms

  • Biofeedback, Psychology / methods*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Paranoid Disorders / diagnosis
  • Paranoid Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Paranoid Disorders / psychology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Repetition Priming*
  • Thinking*
  • User-Computer Interface*
  • Young Adult