From Shattered Assumptions to Weakened Worldviews: Trauma Symptoms Signal Anxiety Buffer Disruption

Edmondson, Donald E.; Chaudoir, Stephenie R.; Mills, Mary Alice; Park, Crystal L.; Holub, Julie; Bartkowiak, Jennifer M.

The fundamental assertion of worldview-based models of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is that trauma symptoms result when traumatic experiences cannot be readily assimilated into previously held worldviews. In two studies, we test the anxiety buffer disruption hypothesis, which states that trauma symptoms result from the disruption of normal death anxiety–buffering functions of worldviews. In Study 1, participants with trauma symptoms greater than the cutoff for PTSD evinced greater death thought accessibility than those with subclinical or negligible symptoms after a reminder of death. In Study 2, participants with clinically significant trauma symptoms showed no evidence of worldview defense though death thoughts were accessible. These results support the anxiety buffer disruption hypothesis and suggest an entirely new approach to experimental PTSD research.


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Also Published In

Journal of Loss and Trauma: International Perspectives on Stress and Coping

More About This Work

Academic Units
Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health
Taylor and Francis
Published Here
April 5, 2016