Wisteria Deng, Jonas Everaert, Michael V. Bronstein, Jutta Joormann, Tyrone Cannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Interpretation inflexibility has been implicated in a range of mental health problems, including depression, social anxiety, and paranoia. Inflexible interpretation of social situations may be particularly important as it can set the stage for problems in social functioning, a symptom cutting across all three groups of disorders. Methods: This study aimed to examine the interrelations among interpretation inflexibility, social functioning impairment, and affective and psychotic symptoms. The study also explored the potential moderating effects of COVID-related preoccupation, as an example of a major stressor, on these relationships. Results: Based on a sample recruited from the general population (N = 247), interpretation inflexibility was found to be associated with social functioning impairment, with affective symptoms and paranoia as statistical mediators of the association. These relationships were magnified by ambient stress during the COVID-19 pandemic—a moderated mediation that was found only in relation to affective symptoms but not paranoia. A parallel network analysis further confirmed the moderating effects of COVID-related preoccupation on the relation between interpretation inflexibility and depression. Limitations: Measuring ambient stress with a self-report question on COVID-related preoccupation may not be representative of the amount of distress an individual experienced during the pandemic. Also, our mediation models were performed on cross-sectional data, thus not necessarily implying a feed-forward causal mediational relationship. Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of examining social functioning as a crucial outcome, as well as the differential role of stress in modulating social interpretation flexibility with respect to affective vs. psychotic symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-59
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023

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  • anxiety
  • delusions
  • depression
  • inflexible beliefs
  • interpretation bias
  • paranoia


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