Hobfoll, E. Stevan, Johnson, J. Robert, Canetti, Daphna, Palmieri, Patrick, Hall, J.Brian, Lavi, Iris (2011). Can People Remain Engaged and Vigorous in the Face of Trauma? Palestinians in the Palestinian Authority. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes 75(1), 60-75.
This is the first study of the relationship between being exposed to traumatic conditions and, yet, remaining engaged in life tasks and vigorous. A national random sample of adult residents (n=1,196) of the Palestinian Authority were interviewed in person in a three-wave longitudinal study: (1) September–October 2007, (2) April–May 2008, and (3) October–November 2008.
Using path modeling, we found that those who reported greater trauma exposure at time 1 reported modestly
reduced engagement at time 3, mediated by their greater psychosocial resource loss at time 1 and greater depressive symptoms at time 2. At the same time, trauma exposure had a modest direct positive effect on engagement at time 3, suggesting that trauma exposure may also activate engagement. Loss of psychosocial resources as assessed at time 2 was the best predictor of lower engagement at time 3.
Greater engagement was also predicted by greater social support, being male, being more educated, being younger, and being more religious. PTS symptoms at time 2 did not independently predict engagement when controlled for all variables in the model. The relative independence of psychological distress and engagement was noted as a critical finding supporting a key tenet of positive psychology.