Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Lilly, Michelle M.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder that may develop following a traumatic event. Many factors have been shown to contribute to maintaining the distressing and impairing symptoms in response to the event. Internal factors, such as increased negative affect (NA), is positively associated with PTSD symptom severity (PTSS). External factors like social support have a negative relationship with PTSS; increased levels of social support are associated with decreased PTSS. Another external factor that may contribute to PTSS is increased stress. There are mixed findings as to how a psychosocial stressor impacts trauma-exposed samples physiologically. The current study addressed the gap in the literature examining the relationship between social stress and PTSS across time in a trauma-exposed college sample (N = 44, Mage = 19.09). Implementing Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM) to examine the relationship between momentary social stress, state NA, and PTSS, across seven days, participants completed a questionnaire measuring momentary affect and social stress via smartphone application up to eight times a day. Each evening, participants rated their PTSS across that day. Multilevel modeling showed that daily NA and daily affect variability both significantly predicted daily PTSS. However, social stress was not a significant predictor in either daily PTSS or NA measured daily or momentarily. Additionally, time-lagged analyses did not support that momentary social stress predicts NA at the next time point. Findings support that NA maintains PTSS but that social stress may not be a significant factor for changing mood or PTSS in trauma-exposed populations.


145 pages




Northern Illinois University

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