Investigating the association between post-traumatic stress symptoms and satisfaction with life: Avoidance is significantly related to life satisfaction with the moderation of Mature defense mechanisms

Alessio Gori, Eleonora Topino, Alessandro Musetti, Giulia Tulli, Giuseppe Craparo, Marco Cacioppo, Luigi Janiri


Background: Among the various components of subjective well-being, satisfaction with life attracts considerable interest, and the research about the antecedents of this construct is a thriving field in the scientific literature. Therefore, the present study aimed at investigating the factor that may in-fluence satisfaction with life, by specifically focusing on post-traumatic stress symptoms and mature defense mechanisms, controlling for gender and age as covariates.

Method: A sample of 703 Italian individuals (495 Women; 208 Men) with a mean age of 34.80 years (SD = 11.81) was involved in the research. They completed an online survey including the Satisfaction with Life Scale, Impact of Event Scale - Revised, and the Forty Item Defense Style Questionnaire, after they were briefed on the general aim of the study and provided informed consent. Data were analysed by performing Pearson’s r partial analysis (controlling for gender and age) and implementing two moderation models.

Results: In the first moderation model, the total score of post-traumatic stress symptoms showed a significant and negative association with satisfaction with life, moderated by mature defenses. Such data was further investigated, exploring the role of intrusion, avoidance, and hyperarousal sub-dimensions. Results showed that avoidance was significantly and negatively related to satisfaction with life, with the moderation of mature defenses. Finally, age was found to interact with satisfaction with life, so younger subjects had lower levels of life satisfaction.

Conclusions: The present study highlighted the negative association between post-traumatic stress symptoms (and specifically, avoidance) and satisfaction with life, highlighting the protective role of mature defenses in this relationship. Such data may provide useful knowledge to implement tailored interventions.


Life satisfaction; PTSD; impact of event; defense mechanisms; Clinical Psychology.

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