Date of Graduation

Spring 2022


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Amber Massey-Abernathy


This research sought to understand the connection between trauma and the development of resiliency while examining the effects of that relationship on empathy and conscientiousness. Specifically, this study was created to answer four main questions: (1) Does early childhood adversity predict later life trauma? (2) Does childhood adversity and cumulative lifetime traumatic experiences impact the development of resiliency and its subconstructs (i.e., interpersonal resiliency and intrapersonal resiliency)? (3) Is empathy impacted by the presence of resiliency, specifically examining its effect on cognitive and affective empathy (using questionnaires and galvanic skin response)? (4) And is conscientiousness related to resiliency subconstructs? There is a debate in the literature regarding if resilience is developed and strengthened after trauma exposure (Folke et al., 2010; Masten et al., 1990). Using the Life Stressor Checklist-Revised (LSC-R) and the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), participants’ cumulative lifetime trauma and adverse childhood experiences were compared to their subsequent total resiliency scores and resiliency subconstructs (measured via Resiliency Scale for Adults-RSA) to determine if traumatic backgrounds are related to the presence of resiliency and/or its subconstructs. Additionally, empathetic response (measured via galvanic skin response and the Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy-QCAE) and conscientiousness scores (measured via the International Personality Item Pool 50-IPIP 50) were used to determine how different traits are impacted by resiliency.


childhood adversity, lifetime trauma, resiliency, empathy, personality, conscientiousness

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Social Psychology


© Victoria West Staples

Open Access