According to the meaning making model traumatic events disrupt global meaning systems and meaning making coping helps restore congruency between global meaning and appraisals of traumatic events. We examined the contextual and coping predictors of two specific meanings made: having made sense and perceiving post-traumatic growth in a nationally representative sample of 1004 adults approximately six weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United States. Although the two meanings made were positively correlated they had very different predictors: having made sense was primarily predicted by some aspects of meaning focused coping as well as other typically adaptive coping (e.g. active coping) but perceived growth was predicted by nearly all types of coping. Further having made sense was related to less distress but perceived growth was related to more distress. These results suggest that having made sense is a product of meaning focused and active coping and appears adaptive while post-traumatic growth reflects a mix of positive functioning and continued distress and coping efforts.
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