Childhood emotional abuse and adolescent flourishing : A moderated mediation model of self-compassion and curiosity

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Original languageEnglish
Article number105629
Journal / PublicationChild Abuse and Neglect
Online published16 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


Background: Resilience and positive mental health may be negatively influenced by childhood maltreatment. While many scholars have noted that adolescents exposed to childhood emotional abuse could meet the criteria for flourishing, little research has investigated the mediating effect of self-compassion and the moderating effect of curiosity on the relationship between childhood emotional abuse and adolescent flourishing.
Objective: This study proposed and tested a moderated mediation model that attempted to explain the pathway from childhood emotional abuse to adolescent flourishing. 
Participants and setting: The sample consisted of 315 female students (mean age 12.81 years, range 12–14 years) in a girls' secondary school in Hong Kong, China. 
Methods: We conducted a three-wave study with six-month intervals. The participants completed self-administered questionnaires at school under the guidance of trained research assistants. 
Results: Self-compassion at Time 2 mediated the relationship between childhood emotional abuse at Time 1 and adolescent flourishing at Time 3. Furthermore, the mediating effect was moderated by adolescent curiosity at Time 1 and Time 2. 
Conclusions: The findings of this study suggested that although childhood emotional abuse may hinder the development of self-compassion, reduced levels of self-compassion and curiosity (especially the stretch dimension of curiosity) could work together to promote flourishing in adolescents with a history of childhood emotional abuse. The results lent further support to the developmental psychopathology and resilience perspectives in explaining the relationship between childhood trauma and positive developmental outcomes.

Research Area(s)

  • Adolescent flourishing, Childhood emotional abuse, Chinese female adolescents, Curiosity, Moderated mediation, Self-compassion