Term of Award

Summer 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Thresa Yancey

Committee Member 1

Jeff Klibert

Committee Member 2

Larry Locker


Traumatic events can lead to a number of disparate psychological responses. Ranging from diagnosable psychological symptomatology to little or no distress, the outcomes of potentially traumatic events are difficult to narrow down. Research on individual differences has indicated the potential for a number of characteristics that influence the relationship between traumatic events and psychological well-being. Some researchers have proposed that one of these factors, an individual’s ability to mentalize, can influence the onset of psychological symptoms after a traumatic event. Mentalization is seen as one’s ability to maintain a sense of self, which enables understanding and differentiating between one’s own and others’ psychological states such as cognitions and emotions. Mentalization is a multi-dimensional ability that varies greatly between individuals. Levels of mentalization are related to psychological symptoms, which is evidenced by specific levels of mentalization present for diagnoses such as schizophrenia and depression. One’s ability to mentalize develops in an incremental manner and is thought to be influenced by life-events, such as trauma. The current research proposes that one’s mentalizing ability plays a moderating role in the relationship between a history of traumatic events and the presence of psychological symptomatology. For some individuals, an increased occurrence of traumatic events is thought to possibly decrease one’s ability to mentalize, and potentially lead to a higher likelihood of developing psychological symptoms. To examine the possible relationships among these constructs, archival data from undergraduate college students were analyzed to determine the role mentalizing plays in the relationship between a history of trauma and current psychological symptoms. It was posited that mentalization abilities, as measured by psychological mindedness, would have a significant moderating effect on the relationship between traumatic events and psychological symptomatology. Results indicated that psychological mindedness did not have a significant moderating effect. Findings are discussed, examining potential limitations of the current study and how they may contribute to the current findings.

Research Data and Supplementary Material