Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Psychology: Clinical




The purpose of the present study was to examine the associations between childhood maltreatment (physical, sexual, psychological, neglect and exposure to family violence), dissociation, and callous-unemotional traits. Past literature has recognized that a significant subset of children are developing with an extensive history of abuse in an environment that is devoid of nurturing (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau, 2016). Unfortunately, children developing in maladaptive environments often develop unhealthy coping mechanisms that impact their personality later in life (Ford, Chapman, Mack & Pearson, 2006; Messman-Moore & Coates, 2007). One example of this phenomenon is the development of cold personality styles (i.e., lack of caring for others, lack of empathy, remorselessness). The present study hypothesized that all the types of childhood maltreatment (physical, sexual, psychological, neglect, and exposure to family violence) lead to the formation of cold personality traits at least partially due to the influence of dissociation. Consistent with my hypothesis, bootstrapped mediational regression analyses indicated that five types of childhood maltreatment were significantly associated with callous-unemotional traits via dissociation. In practice, treating the underlying influence of trauma and dissociation may help in modifying the personality traits associated with childhood maltreatment.