Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Antonio Pascual-Leone

Keywords

Psychology, Emotional processing, Expressive writing, Trauma, Writing instruction manipulation

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

The current study took a different approach to studying expressive writing by examining the emotional processes by which it confers its benefits. An archival sample of 110 undergraduates, who suffered traumas, were instructed to write based on differing theories of emotional processing. Participant narratives were coded for depth of emotional processing and the presence of key emotions. Outcome was assessed at baseline and four weeks following writing. Conditions differed in their presence of key emotions (χ 2 [4, N = 110] = 39.160, p <.001), though not as expected. Depth of emotional processing differed as a function of condition and writing session, F (4,105) = 6.056, p <.001. Depth of emotional processing was negatively correlated with anxiety, r (107) = -.209. The results suggest that writing instructions are not always adhered to, writing instructions might differentially promote emotional processing over time, and promoting deepened emotional processing might facilitate reductions in anxiety.

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