Role of positive cognitions on posttraumatic growth for childhood maltreatment survivors

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology


Department of Psychology


Lucy Allbaugh


Many individuals who experience trauma(s), such as childhood maltreatment, are resilient to the potential problematic outcomes despite their trauma exposure. Some may even report improvement in well-being because of the trauma(s), which is termed posttraumatic growth (PTG). PTG is an improvement in psychological, social, or spiritual functioning post-trauma, often thought to be reached by finding meaning through incorporating the trauma into one’s view of oneself and the world. Research suggests that more adaptive core beliefs can facilitate PTG for some, and several cognitive and social factors, such as event centrality and social support, have emerged as critical to one’s ability to adopt positive cognitions post-trauma. The current study analyzed: 1) the relation between severity of childhood maltreatment and PTG; 2) whether event centrality and social support may impact the link between maltreatment and PTG; and 3) how positive cognitions might facilitate the link between CM and PTG, depending on the level of centrality and social support. While the present study did not confirm a mediational role for positive core beliefs, the findings suggest that survivors of maltreatment are more likely to achieve growth given a high level of centrality of the event to their identities and high perceived social support. With these novel findings of factors influencing growth for those with a history of maltreatment, clinicians can encourage survivors to seek supportive relationships as well as assist these individuals in integrating their traumas into their identities and personal narratives.


Psychology, Childhood maltreatment

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