Gender difference in exposure to betrayal trauma.
Freyd, J.J. & Goldberg, L.R.
A new survey of potentially disturbing kinds of events was administered
to a large community sample on two occasions separated by a three-year interval.
In contrast to previous surveys, this one included separate items for events
that involve mistreatment by someone close, mistreatment by someone not
so close, and non-interpersonal events. For both kinds of interpersonal
events, separate items focused on physical, sexual, and emotional types
of potential abuse. For each event, respondents indicated separately the
extent of their exposure prior to and after age 18. Substantial differences
between men and women were found for many of the reported events on both
occasions. These large gender differences relate to the amount of betrayal
inherent in the event: men report more traumas with lower betrayal (e.g.
assault by someone not close to the boy or man) and women report more trauma
with higher betrayal (e.g. assault by someone close to the girl or woman).
We were able to rule out at least one response bias explanation for our
results (that men and women interpreted the word "close" differently).
We discuss the implications of these large gender differences in self-reported
exposure to betrayal trauma versus other traumas.
Forgetting trauma stimuli in and out of the lab.
DePrince, A.P., Becker-Blease, K.A., & Freyd, J.J..
Presenting research that involved both adults and children, we will review
the conditions under which forgetting for trauma-related stimuli is seen
in the laboratory. We will focus on both individual differences (e.g., trauma
type, victim-perpetrator relationship, psychological symptoms) and experimental
demands (e.g., attentional context) as they relate to memory impairment
across a range of experimental paradigms (i.e., directed forgetting, recognition
memory tasks). Laboratory experiments have been increasingly used to argue
points about the validity of memory impairment for traumatic experiences.
While laboratory memory experiments do have the potential to contribute
to models of memory for trauma, the constraints of these paradigms directly
affect the external validity and generalizability of laboratory findings.
We will compare research on forgetting of trauma inside and outside of the
lab, as well as critique and explore the relative benefits and limitations
of using laboratory memory paradigms to make inferences about memory for
Writing about Betrayal Trauma: Examining Gender and Narrative Structure.
Allard, C.B. & Freyd, J.J.
In Pennebaker's writing paradigm, participants are instructed either to
write about emotional events or neutral topics. Those assigned to the emotional
writing condition typically display physical and psychological health improvements
(Pennebaker, 1997; Smyth, 1998). Up until now, the writing paradigm has
for the most part been applied to events which have been described as emotional
but not specifically traumatic. Betrayal trauma is perpetrated by someone
who is close to the victim and has been associated with various negative
consequences. Sixty-five university undergraduates (51 female, 14 male)
were randomly assigned to write either about a distressing interpersonal
event they experienced during childhood or how they spent their time during
the previous day. Over 50% of all participants reported having experienced
at least one betrayal trauma, women reported more betrayal trauma than men,
and betrayal trauma and health measures were found to be negatively related.
While a main effect of writing on symptomatology reduction was not found,
a significant gender by writing condition interaction emerged, which revealed
that, in general, women in the trauma writing condition benefited more than
men. Examination of the essays points to the importance of narrative structure
in predicting outcome.
What's the harm in asking? Participant reaction to trauma history questions
compared with other personal questions.
Binder, A., Cromer, L.D., & Freyd, J.J. .
Previous empirical research has linked the disclosure of traumatic experiences
through writing with increased positive cognitive processing and physiological
well-being (Park & Blumberg, 2002). The benefits of disclosure seem
to outweigh the costs in many cases. Other research suggests that not asking
about trauma experiences may actually have negative consequences by perpetuating
societal stigmas that serve to avoid discussion about trauma (Becker-Blease
& Freyd, 2002). In the present study (N=275) the researchers compared
participant's emotional reactions to trauma questions with their reactions
to other possibly invasive questions through a self-report survey. Participants
were also asked about how important they felt each question was to future
research. This research addresses the cost/benefit of asking about trauma
compared to other possibly invasive questions commonly examined in research
by simply asking participants about their experiences.
Believability Bias in Judging Memories for Abuse.
Cromer, L.D., & Freyd, J.J.
Participants (N=337) were presented with four vignettes in which an adult
confided to a friend about being sexually or physically abused at age 9
by either a stranger or father. The memory was presented as either continuous
or recovered. Participants judged report believability, memory accuracy,
and rated each incident on a scale of 0=not abuse to 5=definitely abuse.
Analyses were conducted using a 2(continuous or recovered memory) x 2 (victim
sex) x 2 (physical or sexual abuse) x 2 (stranger or close perpetrator)
repeated measures ANOVA. Participants completed the Dissociative Experiences
Scale (DES; Bernstein & Putnam, 1986), Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI;
Glick & Fiske, 1996), and Brief Betrayal Trauma Inventory (BBTS; Goldberg
& Freyd, 2003). The believability bias hypothesis was supported. Continuous
memory was believed more (p<.0001) and rated more accurate (p<.0001)
than recovered memory, and male victims were believed more than female victims
(p=.05). Level of dissociation was positively correlated with likelihood
to label "being made to have sex with" or "being beaten with
a belt" as abuse (p<.01), and level of sexism was negatively correlated
with labeling these actions as abuse (p<.02). Implications are discussed
in relation to biased and unscientific public opinion about memory for abuse.
Misleading implications from the use of the label "false memory."
DePrince, A.P., Allard, C.B., Oh, H., & Freyd, J.J..
Since 1995, psychologists have increasingly used the term "false memory"
to describe memory errors for details (e.g., errors for words learned in
a list); such errors in details were once referred to by other terms, such
as "intrusions". "False memories" is also used to refer
to suggestibility experiments in which whole events are apparently confabulated
and in media accounts of contested memories of childhood abuse. We examined
use of the term "false memory/ies" to describe 1.) suggestibility
for, or confabulation of, entire events or 2.) errors in details. Using
the keyword "false memory/ies", journal articles published between
1992 and August 2003 were identified. Editorials, commentaries, responses
to other articles, and book reviews were excluded. Of the 397 articles collected,
222 (55.9%) were empirical reports. Approximately 70% of empirical articles
used the term "false memory/ies" to refer to error in details.
The shift in language away from prior terms such as "memory intrusions"
to a new use of the term "false memory" presents serious ethical
challenges to the data-interpretation process by encouraging over-generalization
and misapplication of research findings on word memory to social issues.
The research and ethical implications of the new use of the term will be
Global Coding of Trauma Essays: Correlations With Health Outcomes.
Klest, B. & Freyd, J.J.
Past research has demonstrated in a variety of contexts that writing about
emotional topics can benefit physical health and general well being. Most
of this prior research has used a computer program, but not global essay
ratings, to assess what aspects of written essays might be associated with
such benefits. Yet scoring rubrics are commonly used in the field of education
to score global aspects of student writing. The current study used a sub-sample
of essays from a larger research project on trauma, writing and health to
develop a global rating rubric for essays about trauma based on rubrics
used in education. The resulting rubric was reliably applied to participants'
essays about trauma. Global ratings of the coherence or organization of
participants' essays were correlated with improvements in physical and mental
health measures at a six-month follow-up. Possible implications of these
findings and future research directions are discussed.