Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Trauma Dissociation. 2005;6(1):125-41.

Social cognition and revictimization risk.

Author information

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA.


The ability to accurately detect violations in social contracts likely helps people to avoid or to withdraw from relationships in which they are at risk of being cheated or harmed. Betrayal trauma theory argues that detecting violations of social contracts may be counter-productive to survival under certain conditions, such as when a victim is dependent on a perpetrator. When dependent on a perpetrator (as in the case of child abuse perpetrated by a caregiver), the victim may be better able to preserve the necessary attachment with the caregiver by remaining unaware of the abuse. Thus, the victim may develop a compromised capacity to detect violations of social contracts in the caregiving relationship. Over time, the victim may develop more generalized problems detecting violations in social exchange rules; in turn, generalized problems in detecting violations of social contracts may increase risk for later victimization. Participants in the current study were asked to detect violations in three types of conditional (if-then) rules: abstract, social contract (rules involving a social exchange), and precautionary (rules involving safety). Young adults who reported experiences of revictimization made more errors on social contract and precautionary problems than a no revictimization group; group performance did not differ for abstract problems, suggesting these findings are not explained by general deficits in conditional reasoning. Pathological dissociation significantly predicted errors on social contract and precautionary problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center