Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychological Science (MSPS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Lori Lange

Second Advisor

Dr. Jody Nicholson-Bell

Department Chair

Dr. Lori Lange


This study investigates the impact of social connectedness (SC) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a military college population, and their relation to physiological measures such as body sway, heart rate (HR), and heat rate variability (HRV). According to previous research, people with PTSD are more likely to exhibit a freezing response to affective images. In the present study, we explore the potential freezing response for military personnel at the levels of PTSD symptom groups and social connectedness. We also investigate the possible buffering effect social connectedness has on the outcome of PTSD and freezing. There was a total of 38 participants with ages ranging from 19-49 (M = 31.87) and a slight majority of males (52.6%). The study was administered in a lab at the University of North Florida, in which participants were administered the following measures: The Social Connectedness Scale - Revised (Lee, Draper, & Lee, 2001), the PTSD checklist for the DSM-5 (PCL-5; Weathers et al., 2013), and the Brief Trauma questionnaire (Schnurr, Vielhauer, Weathers, & Findler, 1999). The participants also took part in a measure of mobility using the Matscan pressure mat (Tekscan Inc.), while their HR/HRV (eMotion Faros) was recorded as they watched affective (pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant) images. There was a pattern of reduced sway for military personnel regardless of PTSD symptom group or social connectedness; however, there were no significant differences in heart rate, heart rate variability, or mobility across the conditions. Analyses revealed a significantly lower PTSD symptoms scores for participants with higher levels of social connectedness. This finding is especially important as it indicates the essential role social connectedness plays in well-being. Social connection may further provide insight into intervention and treatment options for PTSD.