Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Ellen Flannery-Schroeder

Abstract

The relationship between childhood maltreatment and maladaptive outcomes, such as increased rates of psychopathology, is well-documented in the literature. Specifically, research has indicated that higher rates of social anxiety are observed in maltreatment victims in comparison to the general population. These rates also appear to differ according to gender, with higher prevalence rates being observed among females. However, although the relationship between childhood maltreatment and social anxiety has been substantiated, little is known about the mechanisms that contribute to its development and perpetuation over time. A developing body of literature has suggested that coping styles (i.e., task-oriented, emotion-oriented, avoidance) may influence the relationship between maltreatment and subsequent outcomes, and additional research has indicated that endorsement of particular coping styles may also differ by gender. Given this, the present study sought to examine the moderating effects of both coping styles and gender on the relationship between childhood maltreatment severity and social anxiety. Gender differences in coping style were also explored.

Participants included 213 undergraduate students at a medium-sized, northeastern university. Participants completed a packet of self-report questionnaires and were provided with extra credit for their participation. Childhood maltreatment severity, social anxiety, and each of the three coping styles was scored continuously. Moderator analyses were conducted utilizing hierarchical multiple regression, and gender differences in coping style were examined through a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA).

In contrast to the proposed hypotheses, neither coping style nor gender moderated the relationship between maltreatment severity and social anxiety. Additionally, no gender differences in coping style were observed. The present results suggest that the relationship between childhood maltreatment severity and social anxiety is vastly complex and necessitates additional research. Implications, limitations, and future directions for research are discussed in light of these results.

Available for download on Thursday, July 18, 2019

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