Paranoid cognition in social systems: Thinking and acting in the shadow of doubt

Paranoid cognition in social systems: Thinking and acting in the shadow of doubt

Personality and Social Psychology Review. November
1998, Vol. 2, Issue 4, Pages 251-275

Distrust and suspicion are common and recurring problems at all levels of social organization, ranging from the interpersonal to the collective. Unfortunately, our understanding of the origins and dynamics of such distrust and suspicion remains far from complete. A primary aim of this research, accordingly, was to articulate a new framework for conceptualizing a form of exaggerated distrust and suspicion termed paranoid social cognition. Drawing on recent psychological theory and research, this framework identifies the social cognitive underpinnings of paranoid cognitions. It also specifies some of the situational determinants of such cognition and elaborates on the psychological, behavioral, and social dynamics that sustain them.