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Efficacy of Imagined Dialogue Model of Written Emotional Expression as a Means for Coping with Acculturative Stress

Faculty Supervisor:
Paul Lewis
Year of Project Completion:
Laurie E. Steffen


Support exists across many settings for the use of written emotional expression as a means to express thoughts and emotions regarding a trauma. Trauma causes significant stress, requires coping and adjustment. The process of acculturation has also been found to cause similar distress. One important factor in acculturative stress is social support. To cope with this trauma, written emotional expression can be used and may be most beneficial if in the form of an imagined dialogue with another person. Author hypothesized that this method would increase cognitive and affective words used in the writing and reduce anxiety as well as negative symptoms reported. Authors randomly assigned 47 college students participating in the Brethren Colleges Abroad Barcelona study abroad program to one of three conditions: narrative, imagined dialogue, or control writing. Measures of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, and basic symptoms and reactions to writing task were taken. While significant effects of writing condition were not found on anxiety scores or on symptoms, the imagined dialogue group did show greatest percentages of affective words and words reflecting cognitive processing. Trait anxiety was found to have a significant interaction effect on State Anxiety and symptoms reported. The role of Trait anxiety in treatment and acculturative stress experience is discussed as well as implications and future directions.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.