Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MA in Child Development


Through a discussion of the seminal Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs), this thesis will explore the impact that early life experiences have on physical and mental well-being with an underlying emphasis on optimal child development and the essential nature of a stable, nurturing caregiver-child relationship. This thesis focuses first on the existing literature on child development, the attachment relationship, and the connection between adverse childhood experiences and adult behavioral and physical health. Then, this thesis provides an overview of the current efforts to assess adverse childhood experiences, including the impact of adverse experiences in the present moment, the connection between parental ACEs and offspring development, and the mechanisms by which ACEs are associated with poor outcomes. Then, this paper expands on some of the limitations of the original conceptualization of the ACEs’ use as a clinical tool. These limitations include the lack of generalizable data, a limited definition of adversity, the dichotomous nature, and the exclusion of protective factors. Throughout, this thesis examines the ACE Study and its subsequent modifications through the lens of the next generation, with the goal of outlining why a particular attachment-based intervention is beneficial for aiding vulnerable populations in reaching the best possible outcomes.

Included in

Psychology Commons