Does disconfirmatory evidence shape safety-and danger-related beliefs of trauma-exposed individuals?

Shilat Haim-Nachum, Tobias Kube, Liron Rozenkrantz, Amit Lazarov, Einat Levy-Gigi, Tanja Michael, Yuval Neria, M. Roxanne Sopp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent accounts of predictive processing in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suggest that trauma-exposed individuals struggle to update trauma-related hypotheses predicting danger, which may be involved in the etiology and maintenance of this disorder. Initial research supports this account, documenting an association between trauma-exposure, impaired expectation updating, and PTSD symptoms. Yet, no study to date has examined biased belief updating in PTSD using a scenario-based approach. Objective: Here, we examined the predictive processing account among trauma-exposed and non-trauma-exposed individuals using a modified Trauma-Related version of the Bias Against Disconfirmatory Evidence task. Method: The task presents both danger-and safety-related scenarios highly relevant for trauma-exposed individuals. For each scenario, participants viewed several explanations and rated their plausibility. Their ability to update their initial interpretation following new-contradictory information was assessed. Results: Preregistered analyses did not reveal any significant findings. Based on indications that our sample may not have been sufficiently powered, we conducted exploratory analyses in an extended sample of participants. These analyses yielded a significant association between reduced belief updating and PTSD symptoms which was evident for disconfirming both safety and danger scenarios. However, the effect sizes we found were in the small-to-medium range. Conclusion: Although preliminary, our current findings support initial evidence that individuals with higher PTSD symptoms show a higher resistance to update their beliefs upon new disconfirmatory evidence. Our results should be interpreted cautiously in light of the extended sample and the limitations of the current study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2335788
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • PTSD symptoms
  • Trauma exposure
  • belief updating
  • predictive processing
  • scenario-based approach

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