Honors Program

Honors in Psychology

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Wallace E. Dixon Jr.

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

Julia C. Dodd


Researchers have explored the effects of early adverse life experiences (ACEs) on children’s developmental outcomes for decades. In this study, I explored whether ACEs in toddlerhood were associated with temperament. I tested the hypotheses that: 1) children who were determined to have a difficult temperamental profile would have higher parent-reported ACE scores than children with an easy temperamental profile, and 2) children’s temperament types would have stronger associations with abuse and neglect ACE scores than with household dysfunction ACE scores. Parents of 94 toddlers, who were between 14 and 36 months of age, completed online surveys on behalf of their toddlers, including a modified version of the original ACEs survey and the Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire (ECBQ; Putnam, Gartstein, & Rothbart, 2006). Results supported the first hypothesis that children with a difficult temperament profile would have higher ACE scores than children with an easy temperament profile. However, the second hypothesis was not supported. Exploratory analyses were conducted to investigate correlations between individual ACE items and two temperament superdimensions: negative affectivity and effortful control. This is one of the first investigations to explore the prevalence of ACEs in toddlers via parental report and one of the first to document an association between adverse childhood experiences and temperament in very early childhood. Future attempts at replicating these ACEs-temperament associations in very early childhood, in additional and more diverse samples, can help shed light on their validity.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.