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Pandemic paranoia in the general population: international prevalence and sociodemographic profile

Pandemic paranoia in the general population: international prevalence and sociodemographic profile
Pandemic paranoia in the general population: international prevalence and sociodemographic profile
Background
The term ‘pandemic paranoia’ has been coined to refer to heightened levels of mistrust and suspicion towards other people specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, we examine the international prevalence of pandemic paranoia in the general population and its associated sociodemographic profile.

Methods
A representative international sample of general population adults (N = 2510) from five sites (USA N = 535, Germany N = 516, UK N = 512, Australia N = 502 and Hong Kong N = 445) were recruited using stratified quota sampling (for age, sex, educational attainment) and completed the Pandemic Paranoia Scale (PPS).

Results
The overall prevalence rate of pandemic paranoia was 19%, and was highest in Australia and lowest in Germany. On the subscales of the PPS, prevalence was 11% for persecutory threat, 29% for paranoid conspiracy and 37% for interpersonal mistrust. Site and general paranoia significantly predicted pandemic paranoia. Sociodemographic variables (lower age, higher population size and income, being male, employed and no migrant status) explained additional variance and significantly improved prediction of pandemic paranoia.

Conclusions
Pandemic paranoia was relatively common in a representative sample of the general population across five international sites. Sociodemographic variables explained a small but significant amount of the variance in pandemic paranoia.
0033-2917
Ellett, Lyn
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Schiler, Bjorn
a27aeb30-07c3-4d86-9636-30f5ded332f5
Kingston, Jessica
0a6d15b9-5390-4996-91c9-ef4be2bde1b7
Zhu, Chen
b902bc34-b70b-4884-910f-202a84652856
So, Suzanne
dd8403e8-d31e-44de-ad82-3e63427a4e6e
Lincoln, Tania
5f18d041-2fab-45d2-95b3-c9f03617c396
Morris, Eric
a7732d1b-2673-473e-91ee-f982f46463f5
Gaudiano, Brandon
ef55ca58-ca90-44e5-90af-67b05f9c05b5
Ellett, Lyn
96482ea6-04b6-4a50-a7ec-ae0a3abc20ca
Schiler, Bjorn
a27aeb30-07c3-4d86-9636-30f5ded332f5
Kingston, Jessica
0a6d15b9-5390-4996-91c9-ef4be2bde1b7
Zhu, Chen
b902bc34-b70b-4884-910f-202a84652856
So, Suzanne
dd8403e8-d31e-44de-ad82-3e63427a4e6e
Lincoln, Tania
5f18d041-2fab-45d2-95b3-c9f03617c396
Morris, Eric
a7732d1b-2673-473e-91ee-f982f46463f5
Gaudiano, Brandon
ef55ca58-ca90-44e5-90af-67b05f9c05b5

Ellett, Lyn, Schiler, Bjorn, Kingston, Jessica, Zhu, Chen, So, Suzanne, Lincoln, Tania, Morris, Eric and Gaudiano, Brandon (2022) Pandemic paranoia in the general population: international prevalence and sociodemographic profile. Psychological Medicine. (doi:10.1017/S0033291722002975).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background
The term ‘pandemic paranoia’ has been coined to refer to heightened levels of mistrust and suspicion towards other people specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, we examine the international prevalence of pandemic paranoia in the general population and its associated sociodemographic profile.

Methods
A representative international sample of general population adults (N = 2510) from five sites (USA N = 535, Germany N = 516, UK N = 512, Australia N = 502 and Hong Kong N = 445) were recruited using stratified quota sampling (for age, sex, educational attainment) and completed the Pandemic Paranoia Scale (PPS).

Results
The overall prevalence rate of pandemic paranoia was 19%, and was highest in Australia and lowest in Germany. On the subscales of the PPS, prevalence was 11% for persecutory threat, 29% for paranoid conspiracy and 37% for interpersonal mistrust. Site and general paranoia significantly predicted pandemic paranoia. Sociodemographic variables (lower age, higher population size and income, being male, employed and no migrant status) explained additional variance and significantly improved prediction of pandemic paranoia.

Conclusions
Pandemic paranoia was relatively common in a representative sample of the general population across five international sites. Sociodemographic variables explained a small but significant amount of the variance in pandemic paranoia.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 31 August 2022
e-pub ahead of print date: 6 September 2022

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 469887
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/469887
ISSN: 0033-2917
PURE UUID: 379f0568-5bdb-4d26-9ff4-6fe93529d2bb
ORCID for Lyn Ellett: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6051-3604

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 27 Sep 2022 17:15
Last modified: 28 Sep 2022 02:03

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Contributors

Author: Lyn Ellett ORCID iD
Author: Bjorn Schiler
Author: Jessica Kingston
Author: Chen Zhu
Author: Suzanne So
Author: Tania Lincoln
Author: Eric Morris
Author: Brandon Gaudiano

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