Thesis Title

Gender Differences in Judging the Severity of Traumatic Events


Erin Menczer

Date of Graduation

Spring 2003


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

John Maloney


This study investigated whether there were differences between male and female college students' ratings of video topics regarding victims experiencing a dramatized traumatic event. The primary hypothesis was that female participants would rate the repercussions of the dramatized trauma as more severe than the male participants. In addition, female participants were hypothesized to rate all of the four video dramatizations as higher in severity than the male participants. Adult participants viewed four video clips of different dramatized trauma, after which each participant filled out a questionnaire based on the DSM-IV criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Participants were asked to determine if symptoms of PTSD were likely to occur, and how severe the symptoms would be for the victim portrayed in the video clip. The results indicated that the females rated all the videos significantly higher in severity than the male participants. Female participants thought that the victims in the dramatized traumatic events were likely to acquire more severe symptoms of PTSD than the male participants. There were also significant differences in rating symptom severity between the different traumas shown in the videos for both men and women. Implications of this study suggest that men and women have different expectancies of how both men and women would respond to a traumatic event.

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© Erin Menczer