Resiliency in response to an analogue stressor: Exploring the relationship between hardiness and posttrauma reactions
Palyo, Sarah A.
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Although resiliency is the most common outcome following a traumatic event, there is little research on factors that buffer against the experience of a trauma. One factor that has received preliminary support is hardiness, a personality characteristic thought to shape the way one thinks about the world and to provide motivation to do difficult things. To date, there have been no prospective studies examining the influence of hardiness on posttrauma outcomes, and little is known about the coping strategies that might mediate this relationship. The current study had two aims: (1) to examine how pre-trauma levels of hardiness are related to posttrauma symptomatology, including PTSD symptoms, anxiety, depression, and physical complaints, and (2) to examine coping methods and cognitive strategies as mediators of the relationship between hardiness and posttrauma outcomes. Non-traumatized college-age women were exposed to an analogue traumatic event (i.e., a stressful film) and posttrauma symptoms and coping behaviors were assessed using online questionnaires for the next four days. Although hardiness was not related to the change in symptoms over time, it was prospectively related to fewer posttrauma symptoms on the first day following the film, suggesting that hardiness may act as a buffer against the experience of posttrauma symptoms. After controlling for the influence of the related construct of neuroticism, none of the coping strategies assessed in this study were found to mediate the relationship between hardiness and posttrauma symptoms. Future studies would benefit from further examination of hardiness and other individual difference factors that might predict resiliency in order to improve the ability to predict who might be at risk for the development of PTSD and enhance in early interventions.