Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)


Can your past predict your future behaviors? Investigating the Impact of Childhood Experiences.

Publication Date

Spring 4-19-2023


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Carole Scherling

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Negative experiences in childhood are called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), with research demonstrating higher ACEs correlating with negative attentional bias and higher physiological activity. While ACEs studies focus primarily on children and adolescents, emerging adults are understudied. This study investigated differences in hostility attribution biases between high and low ACEs in 44 emerging adults (age= 19.68 [1.43]). The Ambiguous Intentions Hostility Questionnaire (AIHQ) presented scenarios with varying levels of fault and required participants to attribute fault intentions via a Likert scale. Measurements of pulse and skin conductance provided benchmarks of task engagement. It was hypothesized that ACEs would increase fault attribution, along with concurrent higher pulse and skin conductance responses. A DotProbe task aimed to reveal faster reaction times for angry faces in those reporting ACEs. Results did not reveal significant relationships between ACEs and fault attribution (r(42)= 0.233, p= 0.128). A main effect indicated higher pulse amplitude for high ACEs compared to low ACES on the AIHQ, regardless of fault attribution F(1, 44)= 5.66, p= 0.022. Last, a main effect revealed slower DotProbe reaction times for individuals reporting ACEs (413.7 [11.11]) compared to no ACEs (377.8 [12.5]), F(2, 44)= 4.61, p= 0.038), for both happy and angry facial stimuli. Although high ACEs revealed higher pulse reactivity when providing judgements, no concurrent cognitive appraisals of fault were revealed. However, ACEs reveal negative attentional biases, which seem non-modulatory of fault attributions. Such research is important to understanding effects of ACEs on behavior and biology, and to promote research in emerging adults.

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