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Childhood adversity may enhance adult decision-making

Date:
May 2, 2017
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
A difficult childhood can put people at a lasting disadvantage with their peers on a material and cognitive level. But can there actually be some benefits from a challenging upbringing? A study suggests that individuals reared in harsh or unpredictable environments may actually be better decision-makers in the face of uncertainty.
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A difficult childhood can put people at a lasting disadvantage with their peers on a material and cognitive level. But can there actually be some benefits from a challenging upbringing? A study coauthored by Texas A&M University Mays Business School Professor of Marketing Chiraag Mittal suggests that individuals reared in harsh or unpredictable environments may actually be better decision-makers in the face of uncertainty.

"We found that adverse childhoods are not universally bad for mental functioning," Mittal said. "Rather, growing up in adverse, unpredictable environments leads to better performance on certain cognitive tasks (e.g. shifting)."

Mittal explained that prior research in this subject indicated that adversity usually has no beneficial outcomes. "This adds to the growing evidence suggesting that psychological functioning of adults reared in more unpredictable early life environments may be better conceptualized as adapted rather than impaired."

Mittal said he believes the study's findings could be useful to policy researchers interested in outcomes such as education attainment and general well-being among people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

At Mays Business School, Mittal's research focuses on understanding consumer behavior and decision making by integrating insights from psychology and behavioral ecology. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Business Administration from University of Minnesota.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chiraag Mittal, Vladas Griskevicius, Jeffry A. Simpson, Sooyeon Sung, Ethan S. Young. Cognitive adaptations to stressful environments: When childhood adversity enhances adult executive function.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2015; 109 (4): 604 DOI: 10.1037/pspi0000028

Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Childhood adversity may enhance adult decision-making." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170502205016.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2017, May 2). Childhood adversity may enhance adult decision-making. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 22, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170502205016.htm
Texas A&M University. "Childhood adversity may enhance adult decision-making." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170502205016.htm (accessed May 22, 2017).

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