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Poster B6

Looking past the past: Adverse Childhood Experiences’ Impact on Hostile Attribution and Negative Attentional Bias

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Carole Scherling1 (, Savannah Campbell2, Molly Georgas3, Awen Rolinitis4, Michael Oliver5; 1Belmont University

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affect nearly half of all children living in the USA. Research demonstrates that higher ACEs correlate with negative biases and higher physiological activity (Deighton et al., 2018). The current study investigated differences in fault-attribution biases between high and low ACEs in 117 undergraduates (age=19.60[1.51]). Participants first completed the Ambiguous Intentions Hostility Questionnaire, where they attributed fault/no-fault to the protagonist in 15 scenarios. Psychophysiological measures of pulse and skin conductance provided event-related benchmarks of task engagement. It was hypothesized that ACEs would increase fault attribution rates, while also presenting higher concurrent pulse and skin conductance responses. Second, a DotProbe investigated emotional biases of happy or angry faces, hypothesized to show faster reaction times for negative stimuli in those reporting ACEs. A Spearman revealed a positive relationship such that higher ACEs demonstrated higher fault attribution rates, r(111)=0.204, p=0.032. A main effect indicated higher pulse amplitude for high ACEs vs. low ACES, regardless of fault attribution, F(1, 44)=5.66, p=0.022. Last, a main effect revealed slower DotProbe reaction times for both emotion types in individuals reporting ACEs (413.7[11.11]) compared to no ACEs (377.8[12.5]), F(2,44)=4.61, p=0.038. Overall, high ACEs revealed higher rates of fault judgments, presented with concurrent increased pulse reactivity. As well, reporting at least 1 ACE may modulate attentional engagement of facial stimuli, as indicated by slower reaction times during the DotProbe. Investigating the burden of ACEs on both behavior and biology is important to emphasize the importance of early childhood experiences and to develop relevant support mechanisms.

Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotional responding


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