Paranoia has been hypothesized to be negatively correlated with self-esteem. However, hypotheses differ about how low self-esteem might produce paranoia. The paranoia as defense model views paranoia as a defensive reaction against low self-esteem. In contrast, the paranoia as expression model views paranoia in part as a reflection of low self-esteem. In the current study, paranoia was negatively associated with global explicit self-esteem, self-competence, self-liking and self-serving attributional style, but unassociated with implicit self-esteem as measured with the Implicit Association Test. In contrast, facets of narcissism, which also have been hypothesized to be associated with defensive self-processing, were associated with defensiveness. Overall, these results suggest that paranoia is better represented by the expression model. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.