Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

<jats:p><jats:bold>Background:</jats:bold> Environmental factors have been associated with psychosis but there is little qualitative research looking at how the ongoing interaction between individual and environment maintains psychotic symptoms. <jats:bold>Aims:</jats:bold> The current study investigates how people with persecutory delusions interpret events in a virtual neutral social environment using qualitative methodology. <jats:bold>Method:</jats:bold> 20 participants with persecutory delusions and 20 controls entered a virtual underground train containing neutral characters. Under these circumstances, people with persecutory delusions reported similar levels of paranoia as non-clinical participants. The transcripts of a post-virtual reality interview of the first 10 participants in each group were analysed. <jats:bold>Results:</jats:bold> Thematic analyses of interviews focusing on the decision making process associated with attributing intentions of computer-generated characters revealed 11 themes grouped in 3 main categories (evidence in favour of paranoid appraisals, evidence against paranoid appraisals, other behaviour). <jats:bold>Conclusions:</jats:bold> People with current persecutory delusions are able to use a range of similar strategies to healthy volunteers when making judgements about potential threat in a neutral environment that does not elicit anxiety, but they are less likely than controls to engage in active hypothesis-testing and instead favour experiencing “affect” as evidence of persecutory intention.</jats:p>

Original publication




Journal article


Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy


Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Publication Date





89 - 107