Our Home a Refuge?: Trauma-Related Cognitive Distortions, Community, and Perceptions of Asylum-Seekers and Migrants among U.S. Military Veterans

Doctoral Dissertation


Trauma-related cognitive distortions have been linked to mental health outcomes such as posttraumatic stress for U.S. veterans; however, research has not yet examined links between these distortions (of self, guilt, and safety) and perceptions of specific other groups (e.g., asylum-seekers), or perceptions of security in one’s environment (e.g., community). The current study aimed to explore connections between these variables in a sample of N=101 veterans (87.1% male) across 3 time points, hypothesizing that higher T1 trauma-related cognitive distortions would predict higher T2 threat perceptions of asylum-seekers and lower T2 security in the community; T2 threat perceptions of asylum-seekers would mediate the association between T1 distortions and T3 security; T2 security would mediate the association between T1 distortions and T3 threat perceptions of asylum-seekers; and exposure to psychotherapeutic treatment would moderate the association between initial trauma exposure and trauma-related cognitions, with cognitions lower for treatment-exposed veterans. Overall, results of the path analysis models did not support these hypotheses. A post-hoc hierarchical regression analysis using only T1 data, however, suggests some support for associations between higher trauma-related cognitive distortions and lower security in the community (β = -0.53), and higher threat perceptions of asylum-seekers and lower emotional security in the community (β = -0.21). These findings have important implications for the role of trauma-related cognitive distortions in veterans’ psychosocial health and sense of security within their social ecological space, as well as how they may view and make political decisions about groups that may increasingly share that space (i.e., asylum-seekers and migrants).


Attribute NameValues
Author Katherine Grein
Contributor Jennifer Hames, Committee Member
Contributor Laura E. Miller-Graff, Research Director
Contributor E. Mark Cummings, Committee Member
Contributor Brooke Ammerman, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Psychology, Research and Experimental
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Banner Code

Defense Date
  • 2021-06-17

Submission Date 2021-07-05
  • Asylum-seeker

  • Veterans

  • Military

  • Immigrant

  • Trauma

  • Cognitive Distortion

  • Trauma-related cognitive distortion

  • Refugee

  • Migrant

  • English

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