Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Scott Vrana


Research examining language in written and oral trauma narratives indicates that exposure and cognitive processing are important processes responsible for therapeutic change. Bio-informational theory, which defines emotions as the activation of response, stimulus, and meaning units in memory, provides a meaningful structure for evaluating language in traumatic and neutral essays. This study examined the effects of imagery training procedures designed to prime activation of response or stimulus units on word usage. The effect of writing instructions on activation of meaning units was also investigated. Unscreened undergraduates (n=246) were randomly assigned in a 2 writing condition (traumatic or neutral) x 3 training condition (response-training, stimulus-training, or no-training) design. Word count dictionaries were used to capture the effects of training and instructions on language. Overall, results supported predicted effects of stimulus training and trauma writing, but anticipated effects of response-training were inconsistent. Implications for theory and the use of language to measure emotion are discussed.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2012