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Carissa Philippi

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An earlier age of onset of trauma (before 16 years old) has been associated with greater psychological impairments, such as increased risk of psychopathology and greater psychological distress in adulthood (Kaplow & Widom, 2007; Mueller et al., 2010; Teicher et al., 2009). Furthermore, trauma exposure has been linked to deficits in control (Fraizer, 2003; Ataria, 2015). However, the association between age of first trauma and perception of control are unclear. The present study aimed to define the relationship between age of first trauma and perception of control, or self-agency. Self-agency is defined as the sense of control of one’s actions and/or thoughts (Gallagher, 2000). Participants (n = 14, Mage = 24.00 ± 9.54; Male = 2) first completed online questionnaires which examined exposure to traumatic and stressful events (e.g. jail time, neglect, and natural disasters) and measures relating to psychopathologies (i.e. depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)). Participants then completed a computer based Self-agency Judgement Task, where they were asked to rate their perceived control after moving a box on the computer in various noise conditions (0%, 30%, 75%, 90%, 100%). Preliminary results show that there were statistically significant differences between age of trauma and agency ratings, such that earlier age of trauma predicted lower ratings of average control within all five conditions, t(12) = -2.30, p = .040. Interestingly, earlier age of trauma did not predict depression (t(12) = -1.06, p = .311), anxiety (t(12) = -1.06, p = .312), or PTSD psychopathology scores (t(12) = -0.02, p = .981). As data collection is ongoing, we will continue to examine the relationship between age of first trauma and perceptions of control, and its relationship to psychological disorders.

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Psychology Commons