This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

From Trauma to Growth: The Roles of Event Centrality, Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms, and Deliberate Rumination




Kramer, Lindsay

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




Researchers have increasingly recognized that traumatic events can lead to both pathological outcomes such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and positive outcomes such as posttraumatic growth (PTG). Consistent with Tedeschi and Calhoun’s (2004) conceptual model of PTG, it appears that individuals must experience at least a moderate level of distress to experience growth. Moderate distress can trigger deliberate rumination or meaning making, which can lead to PTG. Berntsen & Rubin (2006) have proposed that a traumatic event is most likely to elicit distress and subsequent rumination when it involves a fundamental or central aspect of one’s identity. Accordingly, in a large sample of trauma-exposed undergraduates, the present study aimed to examine a serial mediational model in which the effect of event centrality on PTG is mediated by both PTSD symptom severity and deliberate rumination. Results supported this full model, indicating that traumatic events that are appraised as central can lead to both distress and reexamination of core beliefs, which activates deliberate rumination, which has a positive effect on development of PTG. These findings highlight the contributions of event centrality, PTSD symptom severity, and deliberate rumination in the development of PTG. Thus, by specifically examining the ways in which individuals engage in cognitive processing, such as through a more deliberate, focused strategy, trauma survivors could experience greater positive outcomes. The present study contributes to the PTG literature by identifying additional cognitive constructs that are involved in the development of PTG. Longitudinal studies should be conducted to assess the path of the aftermath of traumatic events.