Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Counseling Psychology & Community Services
Introduction: Prior research informs us that negative mental health outcomes are associated with childhood trauma (Chapman et al., 2004; Widom, 1999) and with exposure to violence in the media (Hopwood & Schutte, 2017). Given the prevalence of violence against women (VAW) both in the media and in society in general, it is important to understand how VAW in the media may uniquely impact the mental health of women who have previous experiences of childhood trauma. Objective: Drawing from cultivation theory and the diathesis stress model of mental health, this study examined the moderating role of exposure to VAW in the media, on the relationship between traumatic experiences and mental health outcomes (anxiety, depression, PTSD, and life satisfaction) among women. It was hypothesized that exposure to VAW in the media would amplify the relationship between women’s traumatic experiences in childhood and negative mental health outcomes. Method: 208 young women (ages 18-25), recruited through social media groups, listservs, and snowball sampling, were included in this study. Participants completed questionnaires measuring experiences of trauma, exposure to VAW in the media, and mental health outcomes (anxiety, depression, PTSD, and life satisfaction). Hypotheses were tested using path analysis. Results: The findings demonstrated that exposure to VAW in the media has a significant negative moderation effect on the relationship between childhood trauma and PTSD symptoms, as well as on the relationship between childhood trauma and depression symptoms. No moderation effect was found for the outcome variables of anxiety symptoms and life satisfaction. Conclusion: Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
Meierding, Erika, "The Impact Of Traumatic Experiences On Women's Mental Health: The Moderating Effect Of Violent Media Consumption" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 4361.