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Impaired social learning of individuals with subclinical persecutory delusions Institute of Psychology

Authors:

Abstract

Experimental investigation of social inference in sublinical persecutory delusion with a neurobiologically implemented probabilistic advice taking paradigm.
Impaired social learning of individuals with subclinical !
persecutory delusions"
Institute of Psychology"
Wellstein, K.,1) 2) Diaconescu, A.O.,2) 4) Bischof, M., 2) 3) Rüesch Ranganadan, A.,1) 2) Ullrich, J., 1) & Stephan, K.E.2)!
1) University of Zurich, Department of Psychology, Zurich, Switzerland 2) University of Zurich & ETH Zurich, Translational Neuromodeling Unit (TNU), Zurich, Switzerland !
3) University of Zurich, Department of Psychiatry (PUK), Zurich, Switzerland 4) University of Basel, Department of Psychiatry (UPK), Basel, Switzerland !
Background "
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It has long been suspected that abnormalities in social
inference (e.g., about the intentions of others) play a key role in
the occurrence of persecutory delusions. In patient studies
persecutory delusions (PD) have been linked to (mal)function of
social learning but on the subclinical level findings have been
inconsistent. !
We investigated the link between social learning and PD
tendencies with a probabilistic advice taking paradigm
which captures the dynamic nature of social interaction and
which has been studied neurobiologically. The sample
investigated was recruited from the general population thus
varying highly in levels of education, age, and professional
background. !
In order to investigate dierences in processing of social
information we introduced an experimental framing which
dierentially emphasized reasons behind incorrect advice. !
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Study Design & Procedure"
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In order to investigate the influence of persecutory ideation,
we screened individuals in the general population and selected
those scoring on opposite ends of a persecutory delusion
measure; Freeman’s Paranoia Checklist (PCL):!
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1)Pre-Screening: group assignment (-0.5 sd / + 0.5 sd) !
N = 1’154!
2) Screening: stability of group assignment (4 weeks later)!
N = 329!
3)Experiment: N = 162: Task, cognitive test, questionnaires!
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Study Design"
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2 x 2 factorial between-group design (2 groups, 2 conditions)!
Research Question & Hypotheses"
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Research Question 1: Do individuals with proneness to
persecutory delusions (PD) engage in social inference dierently
than individuals on the other end of the PD spectrum?!
Research Question 2: How do individuals with PD tendencies
integrate social information?!
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Individuals with PD tendencies will…!
I.… not be as adaptive in the face of diering social information
than individuals without tendencies to PD.!
II.… view negative interactions as purposefully malevolent
behavior by their interaction partner which is directed towards
them specifically.!
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Experimental groups "
(Research Question 1, influence of PD on social inference)!
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High vs. low scorers on the Persecutory Delusion (PD)
dimension:!
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High PD group: frequent thoughts of persecution
Low PD group: (almost) no thoughts of persecution
Experimental conditions "
(Research Question 2, influence of saliency of information)!
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Experimental Condition A: Focus on adviser intentionality
(saliency of dispositional information)!
Experimental Condition B: Focus on adviser’s information
(saliency of situational information)!
Social Learning Paradigm"
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B. Participants make trial by trial predictions regarding what
colour (blue/green) wins. Correct predictions advance the score
toward a silver/gold target associated with a monetary bonus.!
Predictions are made based on two sources of information:!
Pie chart with a veridical winning probability distribution!
Advice provided by an adviser (via recorded video)!
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A. Advice was based on a probability distribution of 80:20 on
each trial. The adviser’s incentive structure was dierent to the
player’s and unknown to the player. Advice validity was high in
124/210 trials."
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Results"
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Adviser side"Player side"
Literature"
Bentall, R. P., Corcoran, R., Howard, R., Blackwood, N., & Kinderman, P. (2001).
Persecutory delusions: a review and theoretical integration. Clinical psychology
review, 21(8), 1143-1192.!
Diaconescu, A. O., Mathys, C., Weber, L. A., Daunizeau, J., Kasper, L., Lomakina, E.
I., ... & Stephan, K. E. (2014). Inferring on the intentions of others by hierarchical
Bayesian learning. PLoS Comput Biol, 10(9), e1003810.!
Diaconescu, A. O., Mathys, C., Weber, L. A., Kasper, L., Mauer, J., & Stephan, K. E.
(2017). Hierarchical prediction errors in midbrain and septum during social learning.
Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 12(4), 618-634.!
Freeman, D., Garety, P. A., Bebbington, P. E., Smith, B., Rollinson, R., Fowler, D., ...
& Dunn, G. (2005). Psychological investigation of the structure of paranoia in a non-
clinical population. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 186(5), 427-435.!
Freeman, D. (2007). Suspicious minds: the psychology of persecutory delusions.
Clinical psychology review, 27(4), 425-457.
Gilbert, D. T., & Osborne, R. E. (1989). Thinking backward: Some curable and
incurable consequences of cognitive busyness. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 57(6), 940.!
Taylor, S. E., & Fiske, S. T. (1978). Salience, attention, and attribution: Top of the
head phenomena. Advances in experimental social psychology, 11, 249-288.!
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Discussion"
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We found that individuals with tendencies to persecutory
delusions (PD) dier from individuals on the other end of the
PD spectrum in our social learning paradigm. They do not
seem to integrate and utilize situational social information even
when it is salient. !
High PD participants did not integrate the social information
provided by the frame, i.e. they did not trust advice, even
when potentially incorrect advice was framed as circumstantial
(situational) rather than intentional. Volatility seemed to further
increase this tendency. !
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Linear regression with IA eects !!!!!! !
a taking advice overall!
Main eect of condition: F=6.376, p=0.0094**!
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b taking advice when advice is helpful with p=0.8!
Interaction eect: F=5.7381, p=0.0179* !!!!
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Choosing in accordance with advice!Self-Report: Debriefing Questionnaire!
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Assign percentages to the causes of invalid advice, !
so that a) + b) = 100%!
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a) The adviser you were assigned !_____________!
b) The rules of the game !_____________!
Attribution of changing advice validity to adviser!
d"
Linear regression !!!!!!!!!! !
c absolute change in rating of adviser likability !!
Main eect Group: F=4.78, p=0.03*!
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d assigning incorrect advice to attribution locus !
Main eect Group : F=8.047, p=0.005** !!
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How did you feel about the adviser before the game!
1! 2 ! ! 3 ! 4 ! 5! ! 6!
0----------------0----------------0----------------0---------------0--------
---------0!
unlikable!!!!!!!!!!!! likable!
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How do you feel about the adviser after the game!
1! 2 ! ! 3 ! 4! 5! ! 6!
0----------------0----------------0----------------0---------------0--------
---------0!
unlikable!!!!!!!!!!!! likable!
c"
c"d"
These findings suggest that impairments in social inference in
subclinical PD could be linked to the following problems:!
Rigid and negative beliefs regarding social interactions!
Tendency to attribute external personally "
Diminished regard for cues provided by the social situation!
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Sample"
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Matched between groups and conditions regarding age,
education, and gender. !
Controlled for cognitive performance (BNA, Ferhava 2015)!
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All variables dier between groups with p<0.001!
For similar neurobiologically implemented tasks see: !
P-10-006, P-10-007, and O-05-006"
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b"
Condition A Condition B
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