Persecutory delusions: Effects of cognitive bias modification for interpretation and the Maudsley Review Training Programme on social anxiety, jumping to conclusions, belief inflexibility and paranoia

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Background and objectives: The Threat Anticipation Model (Freeman, 2007) implicates social anxiety, jumping to conclusions (JTC) and belief inflexibility in persecutory delusions. We investigated whether Cognitive Bias Modification for Interpretation (CBM-I; Turner et al., 2011) improves social anxiety by targeting negative interpretation bias of ambiguous social information. We determined whether the Maudsley Review Training Programme (MRTP; Waller et al., 2011) improves JTC, belief inflexibility and paranoia. We also explored effects of CBM-I on JTC/belief inflexibility and paranoia, as well as the MRTP on social anxiety.

Methods: Twelve participants from Early Intervention and Recovery Services in East Anglia completed measures of social anxiety, paranoia, JTC and belief inflexibility. A concurrent multiple baseline case series design was used.

Results: Three of twelve participants improved in social anxiety following CBM-I, paranoia improved in 6/12 cases. CBM-I had no effect on JTC/belief inflexibility. The MRTP improved JTC and/or belief inflexibility in 9/12 cases, while improving paranoia for 6/12 individuals. The MRTP improved social anxiety in one case.

Limitations: The small sample size and large effects necessary for single case series designs limit the generality of findings. These are discussed in more detail.

Conclusions: This study suggests that whilst both CBM-I and the MRTP may have a positive impact on paranoia and social anxiety, the effects on JTC/belief inflexibility are largely specific to the MRTP. Relationships between social anxiety, JTC, belief inflexibility and paranoia existed in 10/12 individuals, supporting the Threat Anticipation Model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Early online date9 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Persecutory delusions
  • Psychosis
  • Cognitive bias modification for interpretation
  • The Maudsley review training program
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Social anxiety

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