Effects of the Same Traumatic Experience on Adolescents and Adults
Gu, Wen. “Effects of the Same Traumatic Experience on Adolescents and Adults”, Boston College, 2008. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/552.
The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 was witnessed first-hand by individuals of all ages in New York City, and many witnesses experienced symptoms of posttraumatic stress. This study investigated whether adolescent witnesses report being more negatively affected by the 9-11 event than adult witnesses. It is predicted that adolescents will be more negatively affected by 9-11 because they generally have had fewer life experiences in managing stress, thus they have developed fewer coping mechanisms for dealing with trauma. The study recruited adolescent participants from Stuyvesant High School (located 5 blocks away from the WTC) alumni graduating classes of 2002-05. Adult participants were recruited from employees of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen, Hamilton, LLP (one block the street from WTC). Participants were sent an Internet survey via World Wide Web consisting of a series of questionnaires. The questionnaires asked participants to recall specific events from 9-11, put in order a series of events, report significant life changes post 9-11, rate how often they engage in various coping behaviors, and describe their current physical and mental well-being. The study found age to be significant on two factors within the life changes questionnaire: compared to adults, adolescents reported experiencing a wider range of emotions and the ability to focus on work despite outside stressors. These findings were contrary to the hypothesis. Essentially, adolescents reported faring either the same or better than adults across all measures. The study also unexpectedly found significance examining gender and hours of media consumption.