Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Mark A. Whisman


This study was conducted to examine the association between childhood traumas and psychopathology in adolescents. Specifically, the study evaluated the association between lifetime exposure to 19 potentially traumatic events and serious emotional disturbance (SED), using data from the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement, a probability sample of 13-17-year-old adolescents (N = 10,106). Sixty-two percent of adolescents reported experiencing at least one trauma, and the mean number of traumas reported was 1.4. Adjusting for demographic characteristics, 18 of the 19 traumas were significantly and positively associated with SED, with traumas involving interpersonal violence having especially large effect sizes. The largest effect sizes were obtained for (a) beaten by date or romantic partner, (b) raped, and (c) beaten by parent or guardian. Fifteen traumas were significantly and positively associated with SED when all 19 traumas were examined simultaneously, thereby providing evidence for the specificity of associations between these traumas and SED. These results suggest that the experience of specific potentially traumatic events is associated with psychopathology in adolescents and highlight the importance of the associations between traumas involving interpersonal violence and psychopathology in adolescents.

Available for download on Sunday, April 11, 2021

Included in

Psychology Commons