Title: Early life stress and perceived social isolation influence how children use value information to guide behavior
Legend: Effects of stressful life event exposure and perceived social isolation on children’s avoidance behaviors. Stressful life event exposure was positively associated with increased likelihood of avoidance (β = 0.25, SE = 0.08, p = .003) as compared to approach of reinforcers for children with higher levels of perceived social isolation (in red). There was no relation between stressful life event exposure and children’s avoidance behaviors (β = 0.01, SE = 0.13, p = .921) for those reporting lower levels of perceived social isolation (in blue).
Citation: Smith, K.E. & Pollak, S.D. (2021). Early life stress and perceived social isolation influence howchildren use value information to guide behavior. Child Development. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13727
Abstract: Learning the value of environmental signals and using that information to guide behavior is critical for survival. Stress in childhood may influence these processes, but how it does so is still unclear. This study examined how stressful event exposures and perceived social isolation affect the ability to learn value signals and use that information in 72 children (8–9 years; 29 girls; 65.3% White). Stressful event exposures and perceived social isolation did not influence how children learned value information. But, children with high stressful event exposures and perceived social isolation were worse at using that information. These data suggest alterations in how value information is used, rather than learned, may be one mechanism linking early experiences to later behaviors.
About the Lab: Research projects in The Child Emotion lab are focused upon children’s emotional development and the relationship between early emotional experience and child psychopathology. We are particularly interested in understanding two related aspects of emotional development:
- What are the mechanisms of normal emotional development?
- To what extent are emotions shaped by nature and nurture?
- Does it make sense to try and separate biology and experience?
- How are emotions related to the development of psychopathology in children?
- Might the development of emotional processes help explain the link between people’s early experiences and later development of psychological difficulties?
Investigator: Seth Pollak, PhD