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Department of Psychology


Publication details for Professor Charles Fernyhough

Jones, S. R. & Fernyhough, C. (2008). Thought suppression and persecutory delusion-like beliefs in a non-clinical sample. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 13(4): 281-295.

Author(s) from Durham


Introduction. Thought suppression may play a role in the formation and/or maintenance of persecutory delusions, although this possibility has not yet been empirically studied. We investigated thought suppression levels in relation to the presence of persecutory delusion-like beliefs (PDLBs), and hypothesised that only when levels of anxiety or negative affect were high would thought suppression predict levels of PDLBs.
Method. Thought suppression, anxiety, negative affect, social desirability, and persecutory ideation were assessed in a nonclinical sample (N=183) using online questionnaires.
Results. When gender, anxiety, and negative affect were controlled, the interaction between thought suppression and anxiety predicted levels of PDLBs. Further analysis of this interaction showed that thought suppression was positively associated with PDLBs only when anxiety was high. Neither thought suppression by itself, nor the two-way interaction between negative affect and thought suppression, nor the three-way interaction between negative affect, anxiety, and thought suppression, were predictors of PDLB levels.
Conclusion. The results are consistent with a proposed interaction between thought suppression and anxiety in the development of PDLBs. Possible causal mechanisms underlying this relation are considered further, future research in the area proposed, and potential clinical implications examined.