Term of Award

Summer 2023

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Thresa Yancey

Committee Member 1

Dorthie Cross

Committee Member 2

Ryan Couillou


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) represent types of adversity (e.g., abuse, household dysfunction) that occur in childhood. These experiences are linked to a variety of negative consequences including increased mortality, disability, and participation in risky behaviors (Campbell et al., 2016; Felitti et al., 1998). While risky behaviors are associated with maladaptive coping, hardiness is related to adaptive coping and personal growth. However, it is unclear how possessing hardiness may impact the relationship between ACEs and risky behaviors (Bethell et al., 2014). Moreover, a gap in the literature exists and in-depth examinations of risky behaviors (e.g., risky sex, substance use) are less prevalent than research on health issues (e.g., diabetes) related to ACEs. Therefore, this study aimed to fill these gaps and explore the relationship between ACEs and risky behavior and how hardiness may moderate this relationship. A convenience sample of participants completed self-report measures of these constructs. It was hypothesized that experiencing ACEs predicts engagement in risky behavior, increased hardiness predicts less engagement in risky behavior, and hardiness weakens the relationship between ACEs and risky behavior. Simple linear regressions showed ACEs is a significant predictor for risky behavior, while hardiness is not a significant predictor for risky behavior. Non-rural participants reported experiencing more ACEs and expecting to engage in more risky behaviors in the future. Women and genderqueer participants reported more ACEs than men. Women, who reported less hardiness than men, showed higher levels of hardiness than genderqueer participants.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material