Conclusions

The St. Peter, Minnesota, tornado study provides a unique perspective on the question of whether reports of traumatic and nontraumatic events differ. We found that conversations about the tornado were longer than those about the nontraumatic events. Conversations about the tornado also had more breadth than those about the nontraumatic events. On the other hand, the level of detail provided about the traumatic and nontrau-matic events did not differ. Moreover, similar patterns of relations between maternal verbal behavior and children's contributions were apparent for the tornado and the nontraumatic events. The patterns of relations were, however, stronger when the dyads were talking about the traumatic event relative to when they were talking about nontraumatic events. Stronger relations in the context of traumatic relative to nontraumatic events may result from mothers' attempts to offer children greater assistance in understanding, interpreting, and evaluating these unusual experiences. The research provides a novel approach to the enduring question of whether stressful and even traumatic events are differentially remembered relative to events that are more affectively neutral or positive.

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