Families in the Shadow of Traumatic Experiences: Negative World Assumptions and Family Relationships

Rahel Bachem, Yafit Levin, Jacob Y. Stein, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

World assumptions (WAs) are cognitive schemas concerning an individual's views of themselves, the world, and others. Although it is well established that WAs are negatively distorted by trauma exposure and strongly associated with posttraumatic psychopathology, the potential impact of WAs on close interpersonal relationships remains largely uninvestigated. The current study explored the implications of veterans’ and their spouses’ WAs on their marital and parental relationships. Male Israeli veterans (N = 213) from the 1973 Yom Kippur War and their wives were assessed for WAs, marital adjustment, and positive parenting 35–37 years postwar. Analyses included actor–partner interdependence modeling with mediators (APIMem) and were conducted separately for the three domains of WAs: world benevolence, world meaningfulness, and self-worth. The results indicated that both husbands’ and wives’ lower scores for all domain-specific WA scales were associated with lower scores on measures of marital adjustment and positive parenting. Lower scores for both spouses on scales measuring world benevolence and self-worth were associated with a spillover from lower marital adjustment to lower positive parenting. Finally, associations between one spouse's lower WA scores and the other spouse's spillover from lower marital adjustment to lower positive parenting (i.e., cross–spillover effects) were identified for wives’ world benevolence ratings and husbands’ self-worth, ds = 0.14–0.72. These results point to the detrimental ramifications of negative WAs on family relationships and the dynamics between the marital and parental family subsystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-160
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

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