Recent research has distinguished between actual posttraumatic growth (PTG) and perceived PTG. We used a prospective research design to measure both actual and perceived PTG in an attempt to replicate and extend previous findings. We examined college students (N
= 64) who experienced a traumatic event between the start (Time 1) and end (Time 2) of a semester. We included three measures of change from pre- to post-trauma: (1) Actual PTG (change scores in measures of PTG domains), (2) perceived general growth (Time 2 ratings of functioning at Time 1 subtracted from actual ratings given at Time 1), and (3) perceived PTG (self-reports of PTG on the posttraumatic growth inventory). The results revealed perceived general growth and actual PTG were significantly correlated, suggesting that participants’ perceptions of change were accurate. However, perceived PTG was not significantly related to either actual PTG or perceived general growth. Further, increases in actual PTG and perceived general growth were significantly related to decreases in distress and unrelated to coping. By contrast, higher levels of perceived PTG were significantly related to increases in distress and higher levels of avoidance coping. Our results suggest perceived PTG may be more of a coping process than an accurate recall of posttraumatic change.
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