Presentations authored or co-authored by members of the Freyd Dynamics Lab at the

2004 Annual Meeting of the
International Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress

(Scroll down for handouts)

Spoken Presentations ISTSS 2004

Posters ISTSS 2004

Authors and Co-authors:


Abstracts & Handouts

image: Jennifer Freyd

Spoken Presentation:
Gender difference in exposure to betrayal trauma.

Freyd, J.J. & Goldberg, L.R.
Presentation Handout:
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.

Spoken Presentation:
Forgetting trauma stimuli in and out of the lab.

DePrince, A.P., Becker-Blease, K.A., & Freyd, J.J..
Presentation Handout:
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 trauma.

Writing about Betrayal Trauma: Examining Gender and Narrative Structure.

Allard, C.B. & Freyd, J.J.
Full Poster:
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. .
Full Poster:
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.
Full Poster:
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..
Full Poster:
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 discussed.

Global Coding of Trauma Essays: Correlations With Health Outcomes.

Klest, B. & Freyd, J.J.
Full Poster:
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.

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