Core beliefs shaken by an earthquake correlate with posttraumatic growth

Kanako Taku, Arnie Cann, Richard G Tedeschi, Lawrence G Calhoun
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy 2015, 7 (6): 563-9
Posttraumatic growth (PTG), psychological growth as a result of personal struggle with trauma, is hypothesized to occur when a highly stressful life event, such as a natural disaster, forces people to reexamine their core beliefs. To the authors' knoweldge, the present study is the first investigation in Japanese people examining the role of core beliefs, intrusive rumination, and deliberate rumination in PTG. Hypotheses that the level of reexamination of core beliefs, intrusive rumination, and deliberate rumination correlate with the seismicity of an earthquake and that the challenge to core beliefs is the major determinant of PTG were tested. Japanese undergraduate students who experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011 (N = 314) participated in this study and completed the Japanese version of the Core Beliefs Inventory (CBI), the Event-Related Rumination Inventory (ERRI), and the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI). Results indicated that core beliefs were less likely to be challenged and that ruminations were less likely to be activated in Japanese people who were in the southern area with an approximate Richter magnitude of 4 or lower. PTG was more likely to occur when core beliefs were reexamined following the earthquake. Also, younger participants and those who recalled having engaged in both deliberate and intrusive rumination reported more PTG. Future studies should investigate which aspects of trauma can trigger or suppress the reexamination of one's core beliefs, for they are likely to be the major determinants of PTG, and should look at change longitudinally.

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