A community of one: understanding the social core of psychosis

Year of award: 2015


  • Dr Vaughan Bell

    University College London

Project summary

The delusions and hallucinations of psychosis are largely a social experience, typically involving the experience of illusory persecutors, conspirators and communicators. Evidence shows that current ‘static’ measures of social cognition, at best, only weakly predict their presence and poorly explain these significant sources of distress and disability.

This project aims to understand how illusory social agents come to form a central component of psychotic symptoms using the creation of the free, open-source SocialLab experimental design platform to allow researchers to build live, interactive, social experimental studies that can be run in the lab or over the internet for this project and a future research programme. We will use the software to run two studies in healthy controls and patients with psychosis that will validate the platform and will allow the testing of three hypotheses concerning the over-detection of social agents in psychosis, negative attributions of social agents in psychosis, and similar but attenuated effects in the general population that differ by levels of psychotic experience.

The project also includes dedicated time to transition to a future research programme with specific goals to widen the empirical investigations and examine their clinical relevance.