This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Examining Perceptual Bias to Benign Stimuli in PTSD




Murphy, Jerry

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




Investigations of attention bias in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have primarily used overtly negative stimuli. This research strategy, while useful for maximizing differential reactions between PTSD and control groups, may not be generalizable, and may actually induce secondary harm to participants. The present project aims to investigate the effects of biases toward commonly encountered or otherwise benign trauma cues in those with PTSD. The investigation on the effects of benign traumatic cues has been identified as a need for further study (Stam, 2007). In this study I compiled and normed a generally neutral picture set of commonly encountered items to better understand the biases toward commonly encountered stimuli in PTSD. Additional analyses of the norming data revealed that differential responses in a military population with and without PTSD could be elicited using neutral stimuli. Analysis of the norming data also identified the presence of some PTSD criteria. Project findings could help identify the effects of commonly encountered items on cognitive and physiological processes with people suffering from PTSD. The results may have implications on future research design and interpretation of results from studies utilizing PTSD populations.