Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Jennifer Waltz

Commitee Members

Duncan Campbell, Gyda Swaney, Bryan Cochran, James Caringi


Guilt, PTSD, Shame, Anger, Treatment Seeking


University of Montana


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between guilt-proneness, shameproneness, trait anger, PTSD symptoms, and willingness to seek treatment. A sample of 202 introductory psychology students completed questionnaire measures of each of these variables. Based on a self-report measure of PTSD symptoms, the sample was divided into 3 groups: trauma-PTSD group (n = 29); trauma-no PTSD group (n = 72); and a no trauma group (n = 101). Group comparisons revealed a trend that the PTSD group and the no trauma group reported higher levels of shame than the trauma-no PTSD group. The PTSD group also reported higher levels of anger than the no trauma and trauma-no PTSD groups. There were no reported group differences on overall willingness to seek treatment, but the trauma-no PTSD group reported higher willingness to seek treatment despite the stigma associated with it. Measures of anger and shame were the most robust predictors of PTSD symptom severity [F(1,100) = 22.569, p < .000; F(1,100) = 15.492, p < .001 respectively], with anger being the strongest predictor. High levels of anger predicted less overall willingness to seek treatment [F(1,100) = 6.160, p = .015], while high levels of shame predicted less willingness to seek treatment when considering the stigma associated with doing so [F(1,100) = 35.860, p < .001]. Results indicate that shame and anger are very important emotional components of the trauma response and may affect treatment seeking behavior; however, guilt appears to be less important than other emotional variables assessed by this study. Treatment implications are discussed.



© Copyright 2010 Katrina L. Bratton