Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Paranoia on the Piccadilly Line

A virtual-reality Tube ride used by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry in London has found that suspicious and paranoid thoughts are far more common in the general population than was previously thought and are almost as common as anxiety and depression. Wearing virtual-reality headsets 200 participants walked around a virtual Tube-train carriage in a four-minute journey between station stops. The carriage contained computer-generated people who breathed, looked around and sometimes met the gaze of the participants. The participants interpreted the same computer characters very differently. The most common reaction was to find them friendly or neutral but almost 40% of the participants experienced at least one paranoid thought. Those who were anxious, worried, focused on the worst-case scenario and had low self-esteem were the most likely to have paranoid thoughts.

You can find out more about this research at

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