Childhood Experiences and Future Expectations During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The current work investigates whether adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and benevolent childhood experiences (BCEs) are associated with predictions of emotional states (affective forecasting) and future events (event prediction) during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hypothesized that higher ACEs and lower BCEs would independently be associated with predictions of a longer pandemic duration and more negative affective forecasting. We predicted the association between ACEs and predicting a longer pandemic and more negative affective forecasting would be weaker for individuals with higher BCEs than those with lower BCEs. Participants were undergraduate and graduate students (N = 502) who completed online questionnaires in May 2020 about mental health, the COVID-19 pandemic, and childhood experiences. Results indicated that BCEs were associated with forecasting of more happiness, less stress, and less loneliness. ACEs were not associated with affective forecasting. For those with less childhood adversity, an increase in benevolent childhood experiences was associated with predictions of a faster return to normal from the pandemic. While, among those with more childhood adversity, an increase in benevolent childhood experiences was not associated with predictions of faster return to normal from the pandemic. Our findings suggest that the number of BCEs may be more associated with predictions about the future than ACEs. Additionally, the number of BCEs may play an important role in influencing whether an individual potentially reacts to a major stressor with more optimism.