The association between reality-based beliefs and indirectly experienced traumatization

Shimon Shiri*, Isaiah D. Wexler, Isabella Schwartz, Michal Kadari, Shulamith Kreitler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


R The purpose of the study was to examine the association between belief types and the magnitude of indirect traumatization. Specific types of beliefs were defined in terms of the cognitive orientation theory, which is a cognitive-motivational approach to the understanding, predicting, and changing of behaviors. Belief types that were analyzed included beliefs about self, general beliefs, beliefs about norms, and goal beliefs as they relate to personal growth. Study participants included 38 rescuers (body handlers), 37 nurses, and 31 rehabilitation workers who treated injured civilians that had been exposed to politically motivated violence. The Cognitive Orientation for Posttraumatic Growth Scale was used to assess beliefs about personal growth. The Revised Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Inventory was administered to evaluate indirect traumatization. The results indicate that three of the four belief types related to personal growth were associated with the level of indirect traumatization. Optimistic and positive beliefs about self and general beliefs were associated with a lower level of indirect traumatization symptomatology, suggesting that these types of beliefs may counteract indirect traumatization. On the other hand, stronger goal beliefs were associated with greater indirect traumatization. The negative association between positive goal beliefs and indirect trauma may be related to the gap the individual perceives between the hoped-for ideals and the trauma-stricken reality. These results indicate the importance of cognitive beliefs and their possible role in determining the response to indirect traumatization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-476
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Cognitive orientation
  • Indirect traumatization
  • Posttraumatic growth
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Vicarious traumatization


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