Self-reported childhood family adversity is linked to an attenuated gain of trust during adolescence

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A longstanding proposal in developmental research is that childhood family experiences provide a template that shapes a capacity for trust-based social relationships. We leveraged longitudinal data from a cohort of healthy adolescents (n = 570, aged 14–25), which included decision-making and psychometric data, to characterise normative developmental trajectories of trust behaviour and inter-individual differences therein. Extending on previous cross-sectional findings from the same cohort, we show that a task-based measure of trust increases longitudinally from adolescence into young adulthood. Computational modelling suggests this is due to a decrease in social risk aversion. Self-reported family adversity attenuates this developmental gain in trust behaviour, and within our computational model, this relates to a higher ‘irritability’ parameter in those reporting greater adversity. Unconditional trust at measurement time point T1 predicts the longitudinal trajectory of self-reported peer relation quality, particularly so for those with higher family adversity, consistent with trust acting as a resilience factor.




Reiter, A. M. F., Hula, A., Vanes, L., Hauser, T. U., Kokorikou, D., Goodyer, I. M., … Dolan, R. J. (2023). Self-reported childhood family adversity is linked to an attenuated gain of trust during adolescence. Nature Communications, 14(1).

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