Peritraumatic Factors and the Capacity for Posttraumatic Growth

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Clinical Psychology


Department of Psychology


Lucy Allbaugh


A number of negative outcomes may result from exposure to traumatic events (Fischer et al., 2022), however, research has demonstrated that most people exposed to trauma are resilient, and do not struggle with negative outcomes. In fact, some individuals report a higher level of functioning after exposure to trauma as compared to their baseline functioning, referred to as posttraumatic growth (PTG; Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996). Given that limited research has examined the effect of age at exposure on PTG primarily in samples of childhood cancer survivors, the present study aims to understand the relationship between age and PTG across a wider range of trauma types. While many studies have documented growth among survivors with diverse traumatic experiences, little work has focused on whether the type of trauma exposure may influence one's capacity for experiencing growth, thus the present study seeks to better understand this relationship. Finally, no known research has examined the interaction between age at the time of traumatic exposure and type of trauma in facilitation of PTG which is also a primary aim of the present study. The current study attempts to contribute to the knowledge of peritraumatic factors that influence the likelihood of experiencing growth. A community sample was recruited to assess these research aims. Present findings indicate that age at the time of event may be associated with growth, and ANCOVA revealed personal health concerns to be more strongly associated with growth than other types of traumas such as interpersonal violence or accidents/disasters. When testing for an interaction between age at the time of event and type of trauma, results were not significant (p = .81), suggesting that there do not appear to be sensitive age periods associated across distinct trauma types. Findings add to an understanding of posttraumatic growth across type of traumatic events. Recommendations for future work to explicate the phenomenology of growth are provided.


Clinical Psychology, Psychology, Posttraumatic growth, trauma, assumptive core beliefs, core beliefs disruption, event centrality, age, trauma type

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