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The Impact of Culture and Trauma Exposure on Autobiographical Memory Specificity

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1 Introduction THE IMPACT OF CULTURE AND TRAUMA EXPOSURE ON AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY SPECIFICITY CLARE ALICE HUMPHRIES A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE DEGREE DOCTORATE IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY THE UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA AUGUST 2010 ii In loving memory of my unique and special sister Sharon. iii Acknowledgments Firstly, I would like to thank my supervisor Dr. Laura Jobson for all of her support throughout this thesis; for her invaluable comments and guidance, for supporting me through the most difficult of times, for going beyond her role as my supervisor. I would also like to thank Professor Malcolm Adams for his support and understanding, which helped to make a difficult time in my life a lot easier. In addition, special thanks go out to all of the participants who gave up their time to take part in this study. I would like to thank my friends for their encouragement and for always being there, and my housemates G and T for putting up with me and making endless cups of tea. To my course mates, huge thanks for being such an amazing year group and making Tuesday‟s as much fun as they were. Finally, thank you to my parents who supported, encouraged and cheered me on throughout the entirety of the course, and to my sister Sally for her critical eye and fancy words! iv Abstract Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disabling disorder that can develop in response to exposure to trauma. There is general agreement that disruptions in autobiographical memory (AM) occur in individuals with PTSD. Reduced autobiographical memory specificity (AMS) is one way this disruption is manifested, and is also present in trauma survivors. Empirical evidence has demonstrated that cultural variations in self- construal can affect AMS. Individuals from cultures valuing a

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