Research in the area of childhood trauma has shown a substantial amount of psychological maladjustment following the experience of traumatic events in childhood. Trauma survivors are at risk for developing a multitude of adverse psychological outcomes as well as unsafe behaviors following the event of trauma. One unifying theme within these psychological sequelae is the nature of impulsive behaviors. Delay-discounting refers to the subjective decrease in value of a reward when its presentation is delayed. Delay-discounting is often used as an index of impulsive behavior. This study poses two primary questions: 1) Can childhood trauma predict rates of delay-discounting? 2) Could delay-discounting predict psychological maladjustment for individuals who have experienced childhood trauma? This study will seek to answer these questions using an online version of the Kirby et al., 1999 hypothetical delay-discounting method, as well as the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11), to measure trait impulsivity. Measures of depression (BDI-II), life events (LEC), post-traumatic stress (PCL-C), and drug and alcohol abuse (DAST-20) will also be included. Participants included a sample of university students ages 18-52 (n=521, females = 386, males = 135) with a mean age of 25.19 years. Results indicated that childhood trauma was not a significant predictor of delay-discounting rate, nor was delay-discounting rate a significant predictor of psychological maladjustment. Limitations and future directions are discussed.
- Impulsivity and the experience of childhood trauma on the effect of psychological maladjustment
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by Emily S. Foreman