The relationship between self-traumatized and self-vulnerable automatic associations and posttraumatic stress symptoms among adults who have experienced a distressing life event
Number of pages
SourceCurrent Psychology, (2021)
09 november 2021
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment
Convergent evidence supports a crucial role for dysfunctional appraisals in the development and maintenance of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, most research in this area has used self-report measures, assessing only explicit forms of such negative cognitions; the relevance of their more automatically-activated counterparts, as assumed by cognitive models, remains relatively unexplored. The current study aimed to further our understanding of the potential utility of measuring automatic dysfunctional associations in the context of posttraumatic stress. The relationship between scores on two different implicit association tests (IATs) and posttraumatic stress symptoms was investigated in a sample of adults (N = 279) who reported having experienced a potentially traumatic negative life event. Participants completed the two IATs (one assessing self-traumatized associations, the other self-vulnerable associations), a self-report measure of dysfunctional appraisals, and measures of posttraumatic stress symptoms and other aspects of psychopathology online. Scores indicating higher levels of dysfunctional associations on both IATs were associated with higher levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms. Only scores on the IAT measuring self-vulnerable associations, and not the IAT measuring self-traumatized associations, continued to show an association with posttraumatic stress symptoms after controlling for explicit dysfunctional appraisals. Overall, the results indicate the value of investigating PTSD-relevant automatic associations to further develop our understanding of cognitive processes implicated in posttraumatic stress.
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