Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 139 pages) : illustrations, forms.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Elana Gordis

Committee Members

Betty Lin, Leslie Halpern


adverse childhood experience, autonomy support, cumulative risk, executive function, Executive functions (Neuropsychology), Preschool children, Child mental health, Risk-taking (Psychology) in children, Emotions in children, Resilience (Personality trait) in children, Autonomy (Psychology), Families

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


There is robust evidence that early childhood adversity has wide ranging impacts on mental health, physical health and well-being in adulthood. Executive functioning (EF) deficits may partially mediate these effects, predisposing children to risky behavior and poor decision making. A growing body of research indicates that there is a link between early adversity and EF. However, more research is needed with younger children and with children at higher risk of multiple adversities. Measuring multiple adversities is complex, and researchers differ in their approaches to measuring cumulative adversity. Cumulative risk (CR) scores are an established method to capture important components of degree of exposure to childhood adversity. Cross-domain risk scores measuring adversity at various levels of a child’s environment have been proposed as a new method for measuring adversity which may capture important developmentally relevant information not captured by a simple CR score. The current study proposes using each of these approaches to measure impacts of early adversity on EF in a young, high risk sample. In addition to risk, it is also important to study resilience factors associated with improved outcomes. Parental autonomy support has been strongly associated with improved EF. The current study will explore whether parental autonomy support additionally moderates associations between risk and EF deficits.