Among civilians exposed to war trauma, the development of acute anxiety symptoms has been found to be positively associated with the severity of the traumatic exposure but negatively associated with intrapersonal resilience (optimism, hope, and self-esteem). No study to date has examined whether intrapersonal resilience plays a moderating role in the development of acute anxiety among individuals as they are exposed to trauma. This “natural laboratory” study examined the putative role of intrapersonal resilience in moderating the association between exposure-severity and the development of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as assessed in vivo (i.e., under life-threatening conditions during exposure to war). A nonclinical community sample of 251 adults was assessed during real-time exposure to missile and rocket fire during an eruption of violence in the Middle East during July and August 2014. The results indicate that the severity of PTSD symptoms was positively associated with severity of exposure to trauma. However, this association was moderated by individual differences in intrapersonal resilience. More specifically, individuals with low levels of intrapersonal resilience reported more PTSD symptoms than those with high levels of intrapersonal resilience in the geographic regions in which individuals were exposed to low and high levels of rocket and missile fire. The findings of this study provide further evidence that intrapersonal resilience may significantly mitigate the development of PTSD symptoms among civilians exposed to potentially traumatic events.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes