Description: Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, many turned to the field of psychology for greater understanding of the impact of such events and guidance in supporting our citizens. This study sought to gain greater understanding of the differential impact of the September 11th attack on individuals by investigating the influence of age, psychological hardiness, and repression versus sensitization as forms of coping behavior on psychological health. Both an initial cross-sectional sample (172 young adults & 231older adults) and a short-term longitudinal follow-up (39 young adults & 58 older adults) were included in the study. Older age, psychological hardiness and the use of a repressing coping style were found to each individually relate to greater resilience/less dysfunction at both time one and two. For young adults, high hardy repressors faired best, followed by high hardy sensitizers. Low hardy young adults demonstrated similar levels of dysfunction regardless of coping style (repressions/sensitization). For older adults, coping style impacted both high and low hardy individuals equally, with high hardy repressors demonstrating greater functioning. This study attempted to gain greater insight into explanations for these and previous findings of greater resilience among older adults. In explaining the greater resilience of older adults, it seems that coping style is highly important, while hardiness and the impact of history-graded events does not explain the resilience of older adults.
Date: December 2004
Creator: Holmes, D. Nicole