Date of Graduation

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Feldner, Matthew T

Reader

Ferguson, Alishia

Second Reader

Funkhouser, Eric M

Third Reader

Ham, Lindsay

Abstract

People with PTSD have problems with interpersonal relationships, but the maintaining mechanisms are not well studied. One potential mechanism relating PTSD and interpersonal difficulties is an inability for people with PTSD to recognize another’s emotion, preventing them from taking their perspective or reacting empathetically. This study aimed to experimentally test the effects of trauma cue exposure on participants with subthreshold PTSD’s accuracy in identifying emotions depicted by peoples’ eyes. Participants were randomly assigned to either the control (i.e., neutral script) or experimental condition (i.e., traumatic event script) prior to completing the “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” task to measure emotion recognition accuracy. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to examine the effects of traumatic event script presentation on participants’ accuracy in identifying emotions depicted by peoples’ eyes. Contrary to our hypothesis that individuals assigned to the experimental condition would demonstrate lesser accuracy in identifying emotions, there was not a significant difference between the experimental (M = 26.45; SD = 3.59) and control [M = 25.64; SD = 5.63; F(21) = .165, p = .689, d = 0.17] conditions in terms of scores on the “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” task.

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