Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Degree Level



Psychological Science


McDaniel, Brenda

Committee Member/Reader

Kayser, Casey

Committee Member/Second Reader

Frala, Jamie

Committee Member/Third Reader

Hare, Laurence


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events occurring during the first 18 years of life (CDC, 2022) and are strong predictors of later negative outcomes such as poor physical health, risky health behaviors, and poor lifestyle habits (Felitti et al., 1998; Lovis-Schmidt et al., 2022; Windle et al., 2018). Previous literature has suggested that self-efficacy may explain the negative impact ACEs have on later physical health (Sachs-Ericsson et al., 2011). Therefore, the present study examined the relationship between college students’ retrospectively reported ACEs and current self-reported physical health, in the context of health self-efficacy levels (i.e., self-perceptions of one’s capacity to engage in healthy behaviors; Becker et al., 1993). More adversity types experienced in childhood were found to predict worse physical health in college students. Furthermore, when controlling for multiple types of abuse, childhood emotional abuse frequency uniquely explained greater amounts of variance in college physical health, with higher frequency related to worse physical health, than the unique predictive contributions of sexual abuse and physical abuse frequencies. Finally, health self-efficacy was found to partially mediate the relationship between number of adversity types experienced in childhood and better physical health in college.


Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), self-reported physical health, health self-efficacy, childhood emotional abuse