The effects of experience on the explanatory style of Holocaust survivors / by David Wolgroch.
Explanatory style refers to the way in which individuals habitually explain adverse events. The tendency to exhibit a pessimistic or optimistic explanatory style is considered to be a stable personality trait. Alternatively, research suggests that exposure to traumatic experiences has long-term effects on individuals including pessimism, illness, and feelings of hopelessness. The purpose of this study was to assess the explanatory style in two groups of Holocaust survivors. The content analysis of verbatim explanations (CAVE) technique was used to rate the explanatory style from audiotape interviews of Holocaust survivors. Results indicated that Holocaust survivors exhibited an optimistic explanatory style. No significant difference was obtained between the explanatory style of Holocaust survivors, who had endured concentration camps, and Holocaust survivors, who had survived the war in hiding, or in a Ghetto. Accordingly, the prediction of a pessimistic explanatory style due to prior experience with trauma is contraindicated. It is unclear, however, whether the obtained results reflect the maintenance of predisposing optimistic styles or a positive reaction to successful survival.
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