Taylor Elam’s Talk at the OU Graduate Student Conference

Taylor Elam, first year Ph.D. student, recently gave a talk at the OUGSC titled “Shaken by Guilt or Growing with Confidence: Positive and Negative self-evaluations during COVID-19.

Elam explains how we all experience trauma whether that is a major life crisis or a natural disaster. When the COVID-19 pandemic came about, many were forced into their homes and even lost people close to us. These types of adverse events can cause a disruption in one’s core beliefs (CBD). Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG) is defined as the positive psychological changes someone can experience as a result of trauma. This all connects to guilt and confidence through the aim of this study: To examine individual state emotions of guilt and confidence at the beginning of COVID-19, and their associations with CBD and PTG.

Using the Core Belief Inventory (CBI), Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory Expanded (PTGI-X), and the Modified Emotional States Questionnaire, 1000 participants over the age of 18+ with the mean age of 35 were included in this online study. Data was analyzed using a one-way ANOVA. Across the four groups (guilt only, guilt and confidence, confidence only, and neither) there were significant group differences in CBD (f(3,908 = 3.17, p=.02) and PTG (f(3,909 = 6.90, p=.01). The guilt-only group reported more CBD (M=3.35, SD=1.12) than the confident-only group (M=2.92, SD=1.27; p=.02, but the confident-only group reported more PTG (M=2.11, SD=1.28) than guilt-only group (M=1.62, SD=.95; p=.01) and neither guilt or confident group
(M=1.70, SD=1.09; p=.01)

Implications for these findings include providing evidence for the associations that the emotional states have with cognitive processing related to adversity. The findings showed that people who reported more PTG felt more confident, while those whose core beliefs were shaken felt more guilt. Additionally, we are able to use this research for prospective reports during another worldwide traumatic event to analyze current feelings and state emotions. Future directions for this study include possibly looking at influence of current coping mechanisms on state emotions or tipping points that transform guilt into confidence.

Amazing job, Taylor! We are so proud of how far you’ve come and can’t wait to see more!

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