Is television traumatic? Dreams, stress, and media exposure in the aftermath of september 11, 2001

Ruth E. Propper, Robert Stickgold, Raeann Keeley, Stephen D. Christman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

ABSTRACT The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were traumatic for people living throughout the United States. It has been suggested that people living far from the attacks experienced increased stress because of their exposure to the terrorist events via the media, particularly via television. Following a traumatic or stressful event, individuals may have dreams that reflect that experience. As part of a course on dreaming, individuals recorded their dreams both prior to and following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On September 12, these same individuals reported their activities and media exposure the previous day. Results revealed (a) changes in dream features following the attacks and (b) a strong relation between exposure to the events on television and changes in dream features after the attacks. Because of the study's within-subjects design, the results provide evidence for a direct association between television viewing and subsequent increases in stress and trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-340
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2007

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