Shame amplifies the association between stressful life events and paranoia amongst young adults using mental health services: Implications for understanding risk and psychological resilience

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Judith Johnson
  • Ashleigh Lin
  • Christopher Jackson

Colleges, School and Institutes


Shame is associated with a range of psychological disorders, and is a trans-diagnostic moderator of the association between stressors and symptoms of disorder. However, research has yet to investigate shame in relation to specific psychotic symptoms in clinical groups. In order to address this, the present study investigated shame in young adults with mental health problems, to test whether shame was i) directly associated with paranoia, a prevalent psychotic symptom, and ii) a moderator of the association between stress and paranoia. Sixty participants completed measures of stressful events, paranoia, shame, depression and anxiety. Results from a cross-sectional regression analysis suggested that shame was associated with paranoia after the stressful life event measure was entered into the model, and shame moderated the association between stress and paranoia. For individuals scoring high on shame, shame amplified the association between stress and paranoia, but for low-shame individuals, the association between stress and paranoia was non-significant. These findings suggest that high levels of shame could confer vulnerability for paranoia amongst clinical groups, and that resistance to experiencing shame could be a marker of resilience.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-225
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1-2
Early online date18 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2014