Ethnic identity and paranoid thinking: Implicit out-group preference and language dominance predict paranoia in Emirati women

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Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry


© 2016 Elsevier Ltd Background and objectives Psychotic experiences including persecutory beliefs are elevated among immigrant and minority populations, especially when living in low ethnic density neighbourhoods (the ethnic density effect). Discrimination, victimization and experiencing a sense of ‘not belonging’ are hypothesized to play a role in this effect. Because a secure ethnic identity protects against poor self-esteem it may also protect against paranoia. This study explores the relationship between language proficiency (Arabic/English), in-group identity (implicit and explicit) and paranoia in female Emirati university students. Methods Female citizens of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Emirati college women (N = 208), reported English/Arabic language proficiencies, and performed a computerized affective priming task engineered to implicitly assess in-group (Emirati) versus out-group (American) positivity. Participants also completed self-report measures of in-group identity (MIIS), and paranoia (PaDs). Results Arabic proficiency was negatively correlated with paranoia, as was implicit in-group positivity. Furthermore, participants reporting English language dominance, and those demonstrating an implicit out-group preference, reported the highest levels of paranoia. Limitations The study is limited by its use of an all female sample. Conclusions Implicit in-group attitudes and linguistic competence protect against paranoia and may help to explain the ethnic density effect.

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