Date of Graduation

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Leen-Feldner, Ellen

Reader

Schroeder, David

Second Reader

Moxley, Shari

Third Reader

Brogi, Alessandro

Abstract

Over 60% of adolescents are exposed to a traumatic event, and a significant minority goes on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is important to understand factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of this debilitating condition. Anxiety sensitivity (AS), defined as the fear of the consequences of anxiety, correlates positively with increased posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS). Research also suggests that females are more likely to develop PTSS. There are a number of limitations of this literature, however, including a lack of laboratory-based assessment of the relation between AS and biological sex on PTSS among adolescents. The current study seeks to address this gap in the literature by evaluating the relation between AS and adolescent response to a script-driven imagery task (i.e., presentation of ideographic trauma cues) as a function of biological sex. A total of 35 trauma-exposed adolescents (10-17 years; Mage = 14.03, SD = 2.48) were recruited for the study. Contrary to expectations, there were no significant differences between males and females in terms of reactivity to trauma cue presentation, nor was there an interaction between AS and biological sex. Findings are discussed in terms of the limitations of the current study, as well as potential implications for etiological and maintenance models for PTSS among youth.

Keywords

postramuatic stress disorder, Anxiety sensitivity, posttraumatic stress symptoms

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