Specific, Cumulative, and Co-Occurring Social Adversities: Pathways to Psychotic-like Experiences across a Dimensional Psychosis Phenotype Spectrum.

  • Karen Cafferkey

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Measurement models assessing psychotic-like experiences across a dimensional psychosis phenotype spectrum should include distress if experiences are said to lie on a continuum of normality within the general population. Distress should be a component with psychotic experiences if it this feature that is associated with transition across pathways to more severe psychotic experiences. The current thesis revealed a 3-factor model (positive, negative and disorganised dimensions) best fitted the data sample (NESARC Wave 2, N=34,653). Moreover, distress associated with frequency of experiences produced an equivalent 3-factor model fit to one without distress. Previous research has provided circumstantial evidence that childhood abuse is linked to psychotic experiences in both clinical and healthy populations. Prior to the onset of psychotic experiences, individuals tend to have encountered one if not several stressful or adverse events. As such, the current research tested three specific pathway models to further assess such links. A multivariate regression model, personcentered model, and a multivariate regression mediation model explored specific adversities, cumulative adversities, co-occurring histories of trauma and adversities, loneliness and their pathways to three PLE dimension Findings suggest cumulative adversities rather than singular traumatic events increased the influence of psychotic experiences across all three dimensions of PLE’s. Specific adversities, co-occurring adversities, and social withdrawal are involved in the pathway to psychotic-like experiences in a general population sample. Also, individuals with histories of high-risk traumas are more likely to experience increased PLE’s in a dose-response pattern. Furthermore, loneliness partially and fully mediates specific adversity pathways to PLE’s. The current findings demonstrate the dimensionality of psychotic experiences in a large general population sample, and directions for future research models to incorporate both categorical and dimensional perspectives.
Date of AwardMar 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMark Shevlin (Supervisor) & Jamie Murphy (Supervisor)


  • Social Adversities
  • Psychosis Spectrum
  • PLE's
  • Childhood Trauma
  • Social Defeat
  • Pathways to Psychosis

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