Negative Outcomes After Morally Injurious Experiences: A Replication and Extension

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Abstract

Objective: The current study replicates and extends a model of the relationship between morally injurious experiences, moral emotions, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; Jordan, Eisen, Bolton, Nash, & Litz, 2017). The current study builds on this earlier work by including broader measures of moral emotions and by including an assessment of symptoms of depression. Method: An online survey, distributed using crowdsourcing software, was completed by 161 military veterans. The survey included measures of transgressive acts, appraisals of these acts including self-transgressions and betrayal by leadership, and symptoms of PTSD and depression. The hypothesized model was tested using structural equation techniques. Results: The results of the current study largely replicate the earlier work, suggesting the effects of morally injurious experiences are mediated by moral emotions while also indicating transgressive acts can have a direct effect on PTSD. The model accounted for a large percentage of the variance of both PTSD and depression and supported specific paths between forms of morally injurious experiences, moral emotions, and negative psychological outcomes. Conclusion: The current study replicates the model that suggested moral emotions mediate the role of morally injurious experiences on symptoms of PTSD. The results also demonstrate that future studies should account for the role of transgressive acts in addition to appraisals of these acts. Finally, the results suggest the model developed by Jordan and colleagues may be useful in predicting outcomes beyond PTSD.

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