Date of Award

Summer 6-26-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Amy Mezulis, Ph.D.

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Lynette Bikos, Ph.D.

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Jacob Bentley, Ph.D.


The relationship between trauma exposure and responding to positive affect and events is unclear. Depression may co-occur with trauma exposure, and may also independently predict responding to positive affect and events. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between trauma exposure, depressive symptoms, and responding to positive affect and positive life events among young adults. Participants were 277 (84.8% female, 56.3% Caucasian) undergraduates ages 18-39 (M = 19.67, SD = 2.22). At baseline, ANCOVAs were used to examine the relationships between trauma exposed/non-trauma exposed groups, as well as high/low depressive symptom groups, on responding to positive affect, i.e., dampening or positive rumination. Trauma exposure was not associated with greater dampening (F[1, 270] = 1.80, p = .181), but was associated with greater positive rumination (F[1, 271] = 5.27, p = .02) at baseline. The high depressive symptom group reported greater dampening (F(1,270) = 30.77, p <.001) and less positive rumination (F(1,271) = 3.97, p = .047). There was no significant interaction between trauma exposure and depression symptoms in predicting dampening (F[1,270] = .83, p = .36) or positive rumination (F[1,272] = .53, p = .47). Prospective analyses using Hierarchical Linear Modeling software found that trauma exposure groups did not differ on reported positive affect either prior to (unstandardized coefficient = -.12; t[125] = -.83; p = .38) or following best hourly event (unstandardized coefficient = -.01; t[125] = -.05; p = .96), nor on reported dampening (unstandardized coefficient = .05; t[125] = .54; p = .59) or positive rumination (unstandardized coefficient = .02; t[125] = .24; p = .81). The high depressive symptom group reported less positive affect both prior to (unstandardized coefficient = -.06; t[126] = -4.45; p < .001) and following best hourly events (unstandardized coefficient = -.49; t[126] = -3.34; p < .001). Hypotheses were not supported by findings, and limitations may have impacted results; however, findings highlighted potential avenues for future research on the impact of trauma and depression on responding to positive affect.