Date of Graduation

8-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Ellen Leen-Feldner

Committee Member

Matthew Feldner

Second Committee Member

Doug Behrend

Keywords

Adolescence, Disgust, Physiological Reactivity, Trauma

Abstract

The majority of youth will report traumatic event exposure by the time they reach adulthood.

Research suggests exposure to such events is linked to myriad negative outcomes. Not all

traumatic events are alike, however; evidence suggests that, compared to non-interpersonal

events, interpersonal events in which another person intentionally perpetrates harm are linked to

elevations in the likelihood of negative outcomes, including posttraumatic stress disorder

(PTSD). One reason for this discrepancy is that interpersonal traumatic events may elicit greater

levels of disgust. However, this is a very under-developed research base, no study has examined

this question among youth. The current study aimed to address this gap in the literature by

comparing adolescents with differing types of traumatic event exposure (i.e., interpersonal vs.

non-interpersonal) in terms of self-reported, behavioral, and physiological indicators of disgust

elicited by trauma reminders presented during a script-driven imagery procedure. In contrast to

hypotheses, adolescents exposed to reminders of their interpersonal traumatic event did not

report greater self-reported, behavioral, or physiological disgust compared to those exposed to

reminders of their non-interpersonal traumatic event. Findings are discussed in terms of

theoretical and methodological implications for future work in the area.

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