Cognitive Bias Modification for Paranoia (CBM-pa)



What is this study?

The CBM-pa study aims to investigate whether a new technique known as cognitive bias modification (CBM) is helpful for people experiencing paranoid thoughts. The research involves participants completing a computerised CBM-pa programme. This programme presents everyday situations and draws people’s attention to specific words that might trigger paranoid thoughts. Having initially drawn people’s attention towards a tendency or ‘bias’ that they have towards viewing situations as somehow threatening, the programme goes on to ask people to consider alternative interpretations of the same situations. The idea is to help people retrain how they think about situations, so that they are able to come up with explanations which are less likely to cause distressing paranoid thoughts. Previous research has found that the CBM approach can help people with issues such as anxiety and depression. This study will help us to find out whether it is also helpful for paranoia.

The study has a randomised control trial design. This means that half of the sixty study participants will be allocated at random to receive the CBM-pa programme, while the other half act as a ‘control’ or comparison group, so that any impact of receiving the CBM-pa programme can be measured.


Why is this research important?

Paranoia is more common than people often think and it can be a huge source of distress. There are a limited number of ways of helping people suffering from paranoia. CBM-pa can potentially offer people another approach which may help.


How are McPin involved?

The McPin Foundation are working with researchers based at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience (IOPPN), part of King’s College London.

McPin’s role is to provide service user involvement in the study. This has been done by forming a Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP) of four service users, as well as having Thomas Kabir as a co-applicant on the study.

McPin’s input has included:

  • Developing the funding application submitted to the National Institute for Health Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB).
  • Producing over a hundred brief examples of situations that might trigger paranoid thoughts to be used in the CBM-pa computer programme.
  • Testing the CBM-pa computer programme before it was used with study participants.
  • Advising on recruitment strategies and helping to promote the study to service user and carer groups across London.


What is the status of the project?

This feasibility study began in April 2015 and ended at the end of 2019. You can see the results in this infographic or read this open access paper, published in BMC Psychiatry:

A qualitative study of the acceptability of cognitive bias modification for paranoia (CBM-pa) in patients with psychosis



Who do I contact for more information?

You can contact Thomas Kabir by email: for more information.