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Exploring the interpersonal consequences of adverse childhood experiences in college students (Pages 29-35)

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS)

Volume 26, October 2022, Pages 29-35


Jessica Criddle, Thomas B. Sease, Esther K. Malm


The Interpersonal Process Model of Intimacy characterizes intimacy as dyadic interpersonal interactions in which vulnerable behaviors are displayed and reinforced by suitable listeners. We posited that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) would foster avoidance of vulnerable speaker behaviors in dyadic exchanges, as seen in self-concealment, and that lower levels of ACEs would be associated with more self-disclosure. Correspondingly, we examined whether self-concealment and self-disclosure simultaneously mediated the relationship between ACEs and relationship closeness in college students. Results revealed that ACEs were significantly associated with more self-concealment only. After removing self-disclosure from the model, self-concealment mediated the relationship between ACEs and relationship closeness. Self-concealment mediated the relationship between ACEs and fear of intimacy. Together, the present investigation adds to existing literature by pointing to the interpersonal consequences of ACEs and a potential mechanism maintaining this relationship, and the potential for therapies targeting inflexible responding patterns to enhance functional intimacy-related repertoires.

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