Honors Theses


Lee Dixon, Ph.D.



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Honors Thesis


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that occur in childhood. Items considered to be ACEs can include physical abuse, neglect, or negative issues occurring in a household. These traumatic occurrences have been shown to cause physical health and behavioral issues among individuals later in life, more so when an individual has experienced multiple ACE events. Additionally, behavioral issues caused by ACEs could lead to complications in developing healthy attachment styles in their relationships with family and peers. An attachment style is molded throughout childhood, usually by one’s relationship with their guardians and how they were raised. Attachment style determines how one interacts with others in relationships through their behaviors and emotions. These attachment styles subsequently influence relationship functioning, and the type of relationships people seek, either romantically or platonically. It is important to understand the foundations of attachment styles and the types of relationships people form with others in order to figure out how they could have been molded by ACE events. This proposed project intends to explore the relationship between ACEs, attachment style, and relationship functioning through several questionnaires. A sample of 150 students enrolled in the introductory psychology course (PSY 101) at the University of Dayton, a private, midwestern, four-year college, will complete self-report questionnaires for this project. Participants will be recruited from Sona Systems, the University of Dayton Psychology Research System. Based on past research, I hypothesize that the relationship between ACEs and relationship functioning will be mediated by one’s level of anxious attachment. More specifically, if one has higher levels of ACEs, they will in turn have higher levels of anxious attachment, which will be related to lower levels of relationship functioning. Further research on the relationship between ACEs, attachment style, and relationship functioning could potentially be beneficial to decreasing the severity of health issues caused by higher ACEs scores and aid in the progression of treatments for individuals who have experienced trauma.

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Undergraduate research