Coping style and memory specificity in adolescents and adults with histories of child sexual abuse

Latonya S. Harris, Stephanie D. Block, Christin M. Ogle, Gail S. Goodman, Else Marie Augusti, Rakel P. Larson, Michelle A. Culver, Annarheen R. Pineda, Susan Goff Timmer, Anthony Urquiza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Individuals with histories of childhood trauma may adopt a nonspecific memory retrieval strategy to avoid unpleasant and intrusive memories. In a sample of 93 adolescents and adults with or without histories of child sexual abuse (CSA), we tested the hypothesis that nonspecific memory retrieval is related to an individual's general tendency to use avoidant (i.e., distancing) coping as a personal problem-solving or coping strategy, especially in victims of CSA. We also examined age differences and other individual differences (e.g., trauma-related psychopathology) as predictors of nonspecific memories. Distancing coping was significantly associated with less specific autobiographical memory. Younger age, lower vocabulary scores, and non-CSA childhood maltreatment (i.e., physical and emotional abuse) also uniquely predicted less autobiographical memory specificity, whereas trauma-related psychopathology was associated with more specific memory. Implications for the development of autobiographical memory retrieval in the context of coping with childhood maltreatment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1078-1090
Number of pages13
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 13 2016


  • adolescents
  • adults
  • child sexual abuse
  • Memory
  • overgeneral memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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