Assessing Implicit and Explicit Self-Concept in Military Personnel and Civilians with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Moore, Brian A.
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Recent research has shown the Implicit Association Test (IAT) is a psychometrically valid tool that can reveal implicit preferences surrounding clinically and socially sensitive topics. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a potentially stigmatizing disorder that is the most commonly reported combat-related mental health disorder. Currently, little research has examined implicit cognition in individuals with PTSD. The present research was designed to develop an implicit (Disability-Recovery IAT) and explicit (Dispositional Resilience and Disability Inventory; DRDI) measure of constructs believed to be related to disability and recovery mindsets. This was conducted to determine the predictive and discriminant ability of an implicit measure to predict PTSD while explaining unique variance in the presence of an explicit measure of the same constructs, the DRDI. The stimuli used in the development of the Disability-Recovery IAT and the DRDI were created through an iterative focus group process, that included experts in PTSD therapy and research. The present study found that the Disability-Recovery IAT is capable of predicting and delineating among individuals with and without PTSD. Its viability as a replacement for self-report measures, however, is lacking. Conversely, the DRDI was found to be a psychometrically valid measure that is related to a range of psychiatric disorders that are frequently comorbid with PTSD. Based on the present evidence, I recommend the DRDI be used in future evaluations of individuals with PTSD and provide preliminary support for its utility. As future studies examine implicitness in individuals with PTSD, I recommend the DRDI also be used for comparison. At the present time, it seems that examining implicitness in individuals with PTSD may be less beneficial than using standard self-report measures, in isolation. Additional research is warranted to determine if the DRDI and Disability-Recovery IAT are beneficial as screening tools to predict PTSD treatment response and associated disability or recovery.

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Dispositional Resilience, Explicit Cognition, Implicit Cognition, Military Health, PTSD, Veterans