Honors Program

Midway Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Diana Morelen

Thesis Professor Department

<--College of Arts and Sciences-->

Thesis Reader(s)

Jason Steadman, Michelle Hurley


Emotional abuse in childhood is linked to an increased risk for internalizing symptoms such as depression and anxiety in adulthood. Religious social support offers a promising defense in maintaining mental well-being in the face of trauma. This study aims to investigate if religious social support in childhood will moderate the impact of negative outcomes associated with emotional abuse. Further, this study will examine whether and how gender and ethnicity impact this relationship. The sample includes undergraduate students attending East Tennessee State University, located in the southeastern United States (n = 471, 73% female, 11% African American, M age = 20.37, SD = 4.84). Participants completed an online survey that asked about childhood experiences (e.g., emotional abuse, emotion socialization, religious social support) as well as current mental health (e.g., anxiety, depression). Data was analyzed using Statistical Software for the Social Sciences. Bivariate relations were examined through Pearson’s correlations and moderated moderation was tested via the Hayes Process Macro (version 3.0, Model 3). Results indicated that religious social support from childhood was negatively related to depression and anxiety whereas negative religious experiences from childhood were positively related to depression and anxiety. Harsh emotion parenting from childhood was positively related to depression and anxiety in adulthood. Results did not find support for moderated moderation for predicting depression or anxiety. Chi-squared indicated no significant differences in the percentage of individuals who endorsed childhood emotional abuse due to ethnicity, gender, or the interaction of gender and ethnicity. Future research would benefit from longitudinal designs that follow children across time to better understand whether and how religious social support may be a buffer for emotional abuse experienced in childhood.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

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