Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Thomas G. Adams Jr.


Inflated responsibility beliefs and threat estimations have been implicated in the etiology and maintenance of obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms. Research suggests that early life experiences that involve actual or perceived serious harm to oneself or others may lead to inflated responsibility/threat beliefs and OC symptoms. Research has yet to explore if traumatic experiences influence responsibility/threat beliefs or if the associations between trauma and OC symptoms are at all dependent on trauma’s influence on responsibility/threat beliefs. The present study aims to examine associations among exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTEs), responsibility/threat beliefs, and OC symptoms. A sample of 886 undergraduate students completed a battery of self-report questionnaires online, including measures of lifetime exposure to PTEs, pathways to responsibility beliefs, obsessive beliefs, including responsibility/threat estimation, and OC symptoms. Multiple regression using the PROCESS macro was used to examine the effects of cumulative exposure to PTEs on responsibility/threat beliefs and OC symptoms, the effects of responsibility/threat beliefs on OC symptoms, and the indirect effect of cumulative exposure to PTEs on OC symptoms through responsibility/threat beliefs. The three primary variables were significantly and positively correlated, and the indirect effect of cumulative exposure to PTEs on OC symptoms was significant, even when controlling for other obsessive belief categories. These findings suggest that trauma exposure may influence responsibility/threat beliefs to increase OC symptomatology, though longitudinal studies are needed to support this interpretation.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)