Childhood Adversity May Have Some Surprising Advantages

New study finds that those who had a bad childhood may not be doomed.

May 6, 2017 5:00 am
Childhood adversity may enhance adult decision-making
A difficult childhood can put people at a lasting disadvantage with their peers on a material and cognitive level. (Getty Images)

Childhood memories don’t always have to be pleasant to be important to keep.

It’s accepted as a tenet in popular psychology that a rough upbringing can cause problems throughout one’s life. But a new study, coauthored by Texas A&M University Mays Business School Professor of Marketing Chiraag Mittal, finds that adversity during childhood may have some surprising benefits.

The study found that adults who experienced childhood adversity may be better equipped to resolve issues or make decisions during times of turmoil.

“We found that adverse childhoods are not universally bad for mental functioning,” Mittal told ScienceDaily. “Rather, growing up in adverse, unpredictable environments leads to better performance on certain cognitive tasks.”

Existing research said that a bad childhood has no advantages. The findings in this study, Mittal argues, indicate that adults are more adaptable than we previously thought.

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