Indirect exposure to a traumatic event is associated with the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Indeed, emerging research demonstrates that exposure to media coverage of violent acts has the potential to cause PTSD symptoms. Theoretical conceptualizations for the development and maintenance of trauma- and anxiety-related disorders suggest that avoidance behaviors of trauma-related stimuli may ultimately lead to the development and maintenance of PTSD symptoms through negative reinforcement processes. Assessing learned associations between environmental stimuli and anxiety may help identify those at risk for the development of PTSD such that those individuals with more learned associations between environmental stimuli and anxiety may engage in greater avoidance behaviors. A highly publicized traumatic event occurred in Lafayette, Louisiana in the summer of 2015. Following the trauma, the community held several vigils and slogans, and banners were displayed throughout the city to show support for the victims. For some individuals, these community support stimuli may have been associated with comfort; however, some may have developed associations between these community support stimuli and the traumatic event and anxiety. As such, the current study sought to examine the learned associations between community support stimuli and comfort and anxiety. Additionally, this study sought to explore the relation between these learned associations and avoidance behaviors, as well as PTSD symptoms. Overall, participants exhibited greater implicit associations between community support stimuli and anxiety stimuli than with community support stimuli and calm stimuli (M = 0.10, SD = 0.31, 95% CI [0.05, 0.16]). These associations did not predict PTSD symptoms or avoidance behaviors. Findings indicate that although community support stimuli were associated with anxiety, these associations may not contribute to the development and maintenance of PTSD symptoms. Rather, community support stimuli may serve to facilitate effective coping strategies through exposure to anxiety- and fear-eliciting stimuli.
|Advisor:||McDermott, Michael J.|
|Commitee:||Michael, Robert, Perkins, Rick|
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||MAI 57/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Mental health, Social psychology, Clinical psychology|
|Keywords:||Community support, Implicit associations, PTSD, Trauma, Traumatic stimuli|
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