Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Kristjen Lundberg


Introduction: Adverse childhood experiences have been found to be a predictor of both altruism inhibition and increased altruism (Altruism Born of Suffering) (Staub & Vollhardt, 2008). Factors affecting the development of altruism after ACEs are not well understood. The emotional mechanisms of emotion regulation and empathy development have both been independently linked to ACEs and to prosociality (Batson et al. 1991, Schroeder et al., 1988). This study aims to further investigate these emotional mechanisms as mediators and moderators of the Altruism Born of Suffering model. Methods: 418 participants completed a cross-sectional study assessing their Adverse Childhood Experiences, levels of prosociality, interpersonal reactivity, and emotion regulation abilities. Results: ACEs were found to significantly predict prosocial behavior, and this relationship was significantly moderated by emotion regulation difficulty, such that individuals with moderate or high levels of emotion regulation difficulty exhibited more prosocial behavior. Conclusion: The findings indicate mixed support for the Altruism Born of Suffering model, though the factors informing these mixed results remain unclear. Future research should further investigate potential emotional mechanisms, as well as explore other mediating and moderating factors, such as the duration and timing of ACEs. Such research has important implications for promoting prosocial behavior after ACEs to enhance wellbeing and reduce interpersonal violence (Frazier et al., 2013).

Available for download on Wednesday, May 14, 2025