Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Committee Chair

Newton, Tamara L.

Author's Keywords

PTSD; Naturalistic emotion; Intimate partner violence; Diary; Stress


Intimate partner violence--Psychological aspects; Victims of family violence--Rehabilitation; Victims of violent crimes--Mental health; Creative writing--Therapeutic use; Post-traumatic stress disorder--Treatment


Described as important long-term consequences of trauma exposure, disruptions in emotional processes are regarded as central features of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); however, the nature of these posttraumatic emotional disruptions remains poorly understood. The present study attempted to further understanding of these emotional disruptions by using experience sampling methodologies and electronic diaries to assess experiences of emotion, stress, and PTSD symptoms as they occurred in the day-to-day lives of midlife women exposed to intimate partner violence. Three sets of hypotheses were advanced and were tested using multilevel modeling approaches, with results demonstrating partial support for hypotheses overall. First, although past-month PTSD symptom severity was positively associated with daily negative emotion as expected, past-month PTSD symptom severity was, unexpectedly, not associated with positive emotion. Second, as expected, past-month PTSD symptom severity moderated within persons associations between daily stress and daily negative emotional experiences, such that women with greater PTSD symptom severity exhibited greater negative emotion on stressful days; however, contrary to expectations, no effect of past-month PTSD symptom severity was found for associations between stress and daily positive emotion. Third, while expected within-day positive associations between daily reexperiencing symptoms and daily negative emotion were not found, temporal associations emerged between emotional numbing symptoms, daily reexperiencing symptoms, and negative emotion such that emotional numbing symptoms on a given day were predicted by greater reexperiencing symptoms and lower negative emotion on the preceding day. In addition to expanding the existing literature on PTSD and emotion in general, the present study also offers a guide for future studies seeking to advance understanding of emotional processes in PTSD through the assessment of naturally occurring emotion and provides insights as to how psychological treatments aimed at improving emotional functioning among trauma-exposed individuals may be enhanced.