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Childhood Abuse and Adult Sociocognitive Skills: Distinguishing Between Self and Other Following Early Trauma.

Authors
  • Hudson, Anna R1
  • De Coster, Lize1
  • Spoormans, Hanne1
  • Verbeke, Sylvia1
  • Van der Jeught, Kaat1
  • Brass, Marcel1
  • Mueller, Sven C1, 2
  • 1 Ghent University, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 2 University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain. , (Spain)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of interpersonal violence
Publication Date
Feb 15, 2020
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/0886260520906190
PMID: 32065009
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Experience of childhood abuse (CA) impairs complex social functioning in children; however, much less is known about its effects on basic sociocognitive processes and even fewer studies have investigated these in adult survivors. Using two behavioral tasks, this study investigated spontaneous theory of mind (ToM) and imitative behavior in 41 women with CA and 26 unaffected comparison (UC) women. In the spontaneous ToM task, UCs showed a larger ToM index than CAs, indicating more facilitation by knowledge of another's false belief. In the imitation-inhibition task, CAs experienced less interference than UCs when observing another's incongruent movements. After controlling for depression, differences in ToM became marginally significant, yet remained highly significant for inhibiting imitative behavior. The findings suggest CA survivors have altered perspective-taking and are less influenced by others' perspectives, potentially due to changes in self-other distinction. Clinical implications regarding therapeutic practice with survivors of CA are discussed.

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