Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Nadya Fouad

Committee Members

Kelsey Autin, Steven Wester, Dimitri Topitzes


post-traumatic stress disorder, Psychology of working theory, satisfaction, trauma, vocation, work


The Psychology of Working Theory (PWT) is a vocational psychology theory that aims to explore the pathways and outcomes that may hinder or improve the likelihood of obtaining decent work by including contextual factors such as marginalization and economic constraints. Vocational psychology primarily focuses on individual characterological elements of obtaining work; however, limited evidence exists exploring how traumatic symptoms or exposure may affect one’s abilities to find work. This study seeks to utilize PWT to understand better how the relationship between trauma exposure and job satisfaction and personal wellbeing is moderated by decent work. Sampling consisted of 61.3% female (n = 211) and 38.7% male (n = 133) and a racially representative sample of the United States. Model testing suggests decent work moderates the effects of trauma symptoms when measured by life satisfaction (R2 = 0.29, p < .001) and the relationship between trauma and job satisfaction is moderated by decent work (R2 = 0.33, p < .001). Decent work appears to have a relation with improvements in survivors’ of trauma mental health, only if the person has experienced one traumatic life event. There is no statistical relationship when the survivor has experienced more than one traumatic life event. Confirmatory and longitudinal research is needed to explore the nuances of the relations between trauma symptoms and decent work overall. The limitations of the study include the length of the survey instruments, over-representation of female participants, and cross-sectional research design.