Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Applied Psychology

Committee Member

Robert R Sinclair

Committee Member

Patrick J Rosopa

Committee Member

Mary A Taylor


Despite the abundance of interdisciplinary research on childhood adversity, the topic has been largely neglected as it relates to occupational health. However, this understudied area has important implications for both research and practice. Using the Matthew Effect and Conservation of Resources Theory as a foundation, the present study investigated the relationship between childhood adversity and adult work-related outcomes. The literature on childhood adversity suggests that adverse experiences as a child such as abuse, or poverty accumulate and result in adults who are at a disadvantage in many ways such as in their interpersonal relationships, occupational and educational success, and mental and physical health. These individuals have fewer resources as they enter the workforce and are often unable to cope with the demands of life. Therefore, the present study hypothesized that because of this cumulative disadvantage, these individuals may be more likely to experience poor health-related work outcomes. In general, the results of this study indicate that individuals who have experienced childhood adversity are more likely to burnout, have intentions to turnover, and engage in counterproductive work behavior. Further, childhood poverty, emotional neglect, being in an unsafe home, household substance abuse, household depression, and being bullied were all associated with lower levels of both affective organizational and occupational commitment. The findings of this study provide valuable insight into the long-term implications of an employees’ past on their present employment situation and provide a foundation for future research to build.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.