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Social predictors of psychotic experiences in adolescence

The role of social cognition, social functioning, parenting and religiosity in the emergence and course of adolescent psychotic experiences.
PhD ceremony:dr. L.A. Steenhuis
When:September 16, 2019
Supervisors:prof. dr. G.H.M. (Marieke) Pijnenborg, prof. dr. A. (Andre) Aleman, prof. dr. M.H. (Maaike) Nauta
Co-supervisor:dr. A.A. (Agna) Bartels-Velthuis
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Social predictors of psychotic experiences in adolescence

Psychotic experiences are common in the general population, not only in adulthood but also in childhood and adolescence. It is possible that the presence of psychotic experiences in childhood can predict psychotic disorders in young adulthood. This renders it essential to gain more insight into the presence and course of psychotic experiences in childhood and adolescence. In this thesis,  social predictors such as social cognition, social functioning and religiosity were examined in relation to psychotic experiences in adolescence. In the first study, a self-report questionnaire for auditory vocal hallucinations was validated. In two following studies, the association between social cognition (theory of mind and emotion identification), social functioning (general and within the family context), and psychotic experiences was examined in two samples of adolescents over a period of five and six years respectively. Subsequently, the association between social functioning and paranoia was examined using daily assessments, in a sample of young persons at ultra-high risk for psychosis. In the last study, the association between religiosity and auditory vocal hallucinations in adolescence was examined. There was no evidence for a trait vulnerability in social cognition in relation to the development of psychotic experiences in adolescence. Lowered social functioning was associated with increased psychotic experiences. Besides this, religious activity and seeking out social contact and support, could signify ways of coping with psychotic experiences. It was also demonstrated that a self-report questionnaire of auditory vocal hallucinations can be reliably and validly used in treatment and research settings.