Social adversity and psychosis: The mediating role of cognitive vulnerability

Edo Sebastian Jaya, Leonie Ascone, Tania M. Lincoln

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Social adversity is a risk factor for psychosis, but the translating mechanisms are not well understood. This study tests whether the relationship between social adversity and psychosis is mediated by cognitive vulnerability in the form of low perceived social rank, negative schemas related to self and other, and loneliness and whether the putative mediations are specific to psychosis or are largely explained by depression. Methods: The study was a survey in a community sample (N = 2350) from Germany (n = 786), Indonesia (n = 844), and the United States (n = 720). Mediation path analysis with structural equation modeling was used to test for the specificity of the hypothesized paths to psychosis controlling for depression. Results: Social adversity had a significant medium to large effect on positive (R2 = .20) and negative symptoms (R2 = .38). Social rank, negative schemas, and loneliness significantly mediated the relationship between social adversity and negative symptoms and the models explained a large amount of the variance (R2 = .43-.44). For positive symptoms, only negative schemas were a significant mediator (R2 = .27). Discussion: The results emphasize the role of social adversity in psychosis and support the assumption that cognitive vulnerability is a relevant translating mechanism as postulated by the social defeat hypothesis and cognitive models of psychosis. This underlines the relevance of the clinical practice of targeting beliefs in cognitive interventions for psychosis. It also indicates that targeting cognitive vulnerability in people experiencing social adversity could be a promising approach to prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-565
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Bullying
  • Etiology
  • Prevention
  • Social adversity
  • Social exclusion
  • Trauma
  • Vhildhood trauma


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