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Moreover, the payoffs in a Dictator Game are determined entirely by the dictator, which rules out the possibility that dictator decisions are based on the anticipated responses of their partners, which would introduce other within-game strategic motivations.
The Dictator Game is particularly suited to paranoia research as the motives underpinning decision-making in this task are ambiguous with respect to harmful intent.
Importantly, we also included an observational third-person paradigm where participants were asked to evaluate harmful-intent when they were solely an observer to a Dictator Game interaction, to test whether being uninvolved would reduce attributions of harmful intent for people with high levels of paranoia ideation, as predicted by Freeman et al.
This project was approved by the University College London ethics board under project number 3720/001.
Notably, attributions of whether harm is intended, rather than where responsibility lies for negative events, have been far less studied despite this being a key aspect of paranoia.
Studies using the Ambiguous Intentions Hostility Questionnaire to test differing attributions from vignettes describing intentional and unintentional harm with identical consequences.
This challenges the assumption that paranoia is mainly due to an exaggerated sense of personalised threat and suggests instead that paranoia involves a negative social representations of others..
Current accounts of the formation and maintenance of paranoia include a cognitive style involving worry, negative thoughts about the self, interpersonal sensitivity, anomalous experiences, insomnia and reasoning biases as key components.
Participants were allocated to the role of receiver or of an uninvolved observer; and evaluated to what extent they believed dictator decisions were motivated by (i) self-interest or (ii) harmful intent.Paradigms taken from game theory are now widely used in social cognition research and are starting to be used more frequently in psychopathology research have specifically focused on paranoia.Moreover, until now, no studies have combined measures of social decision-making with measures of intent attribution, both of which are needed to tackle the two key components of paranoia.Indeed, this is the implicit assumption underpinning the canonical model of human behaviour in such games.However, it is also possible (if less plausible) that selfish dictator decisions are motivated by a desire to harm the partner, by denying them of earnings in the task.