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This article represents an effort to extend our understanding of paranoia or suspicion and its development by integrating findings across clinical, developmental, and neuroscience literatures. We first define “paranoia” or paranoid thought and examine its prevalence across typically and atypically developing individuals and theoretical perspectives regarding its development and maintenance.We then briefly summarize current ideas regarding the neural correlates of adaptive, appropriately trusting interpersonal perception, social cognition, and behavior across development. Our focus shifts subsequently to examining in normative and atypical developmental contexts the neural correlates of several component cognitive processes thought to contribute to paranoid thinking: (a) attention bias for threat, (b) jumping to conclusions biases, and (c) hostile intent attribution biases. Where possible, we also present data regarding independent links between these cognitive processes and aggressive behavior. By examining data regarding the behavioral and neural correlates of varied cognitive processes that are likely components of a paranoid thinking style, we hope to advance both theoretical and empirical research in this domain.


This article was originally published in the journal Development and Psychopathology. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012.

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