Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 283–295 | Cite as

Cognitive processing of trauma cues in rape victims with post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Karen Lynn Cassiday
  • Richard J. McNally
  • Sharon B. Zeitlin


Rape victims with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (n =12), rape victims without PTSD (n =12), and nontraumatized control subjects (n =12) performed a computerized Stroop color-naming task in which they named the colors of high-threat words (e.g., RAPE), moderate-threat words (e.g., CRIME), positive words (e.g., LOYAL), and neutral words (e.g., TYPICAL). In contrast to rape victims without PTSD and to nontraumatized control subjects, those with PTSD were slower to color-name high-threat words than moderate-threat, positive, and neutral words. Rape victims without PTSD nevertheless exhibited greater Stroop interference for high-threat words than did nontraumatized subjects. Interference for high-threat words was correlated with scores on the Impact of Events Scale —Intrusion subscale, but not with scores on the Avoidance subscale. These findings suggest that interference for trauma cues may provide a nonintrospective index of intrusive cognitive activity.

Key words

post-traumatic stress disorder anxiety disorders rape Stroop color-naming paradigm 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Lynn Cassiday
    • 1
  • Richard J. McNally
    • 2
  • Sharon B. Zeitlin
    • 3
  1. 1.Behavior Med Lake BluffUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.University of TorontoCanada

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