Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Howard Tennen, Thomas O. Blank

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Campus Access


Posttraumatic growth has usually been assessed by asking study participants to recall positive changes resulting from trauma. However, recent prospective studies have documented that this retrospectively perceived growth does not correspond well with measured growth, positive changes over time. The purpose of the present study is to investigate 1) how perceived and measured growth are related to previously documented predictors of growth (optimism, world assumptions, acceptance and denial coping, and rumination) and 2) whether they are differentially associated with affect and prosocial behavior. Participants were 122 college students recruited from four large universities in the US who had experienced potentially traumatic events between baseline (Time 1; T1) and two months later (Time 2; T2). Perceived and measured growth differed in their relationships with changes in world assumptions (benevolence of people; BP) and rumination: negative changes in BP were related to greater measured growth and T2 rumination was related to greater perceived growth. Perceived and measured growth did not differ in their relationships with optimism, acceptance and denial coping, affect, and prosocial behavior. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that measured growth was associated with greater positive affect when initial positive affect was controlled. Measured growth was marginally associated with greater prosocial behavior when initial prosocial behavior was controlled. These findings suggest important differences between perceived and measured growth. Future studies of perceived and measured growth will require more frequent assessments.

Major Advisor

Crystal L. Park