Exploring the relationship between attributional style measured in virtual reality and bullying among children at familial high risk of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder compared with controls

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Anne Søndergaard
  • Maja Gregersen
  • Martin Wilms
  • Julie Marie Brandt
  • Hjorthøj, Carsten
  • Jessica Ohland
  • Sinnika Birkehøj Rohd
  • Nicoline Hemager
  • Anna Krogh Andreassen
  • Christina Bruun Knudsen
  • Lotte Veddum
  • Mette Falkenberg Krantz
  • Aja Greve
  • Vibeke Bliksted
  • Ole Mors
  • Lucia Valmaggia
  • Anne E. Thorup
  • Nordentoft, Merete

Background: Children of parents with severe mental illness report bullying more often compared with controls. We hypothesized that deviations in attributional styles may explain the increased prevalence of bullying experiences. We aimed to assess real-time responses to standardized ambiguous social situations, bullying experiences by children, their primary caregivers, and teachers, and to investigate potential associations between attributional styles and bullying. Method: The study included 465 children aged 11–12, born to parents with schizophrenia, N =179, bipolar disorder, N = 105, or population-based controls, N = 181. Attributional style was evaluated using virtual reality environments depicting ambiguous social everyday situations. We created a tailored assessment since no suitable assessments were found. Bullying was assessed through self-reports and reports from primary caregivers and teachers. Results: We observed no group differences in the attributional style of the children. Reports from children, primary caregivers, and teachers revealed that compared with controls, children born to parents with schizophrenia were more likely to perceive bullying victimization, with high consistency among reports. No associations were found between bullying reports and attributional style. Conclusions: Children of parents with schizophrenia consistently experienced more bullying, as reported by the children themselves, primary caregivers, and teachers. No differences in attributional style were found, indicating that attributional style did not explain the increased prevalence of bullying reports. While it cannot be ruled out that our virtual environments were insufficient to trigger a sense of social exclusion, the results suggest that the observed differences in reported bullying are genuine and not a result of the child's attributional style.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Pages (from-to)354-361
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier B.V.

    Research areas

  • Attributional style, Bipolar disorder, Bullying, Children, Familial high risk, Schizophrenia, Virtual reality

ID: 381068475