The moderating effects of resilience in the relationship between childhood physical abuse, criminal behavior, and antisocial traits

Lia Nicole Rohlehr, Fordham University


Child maltreatment is a global problem that has concerned society for hundreds of years. Despite tougher child abuse laws, increased public awareness, and dedicated social service agencies, child maltreatment continues to be a problem in the United States. One very prominent consequence of child abuse is the increased likelihood to engage in criminal and/or antisocial behavior. While all forms of abuse are important and warrant significant attention, the focus of this research is limited to childhood physical abuse as it has been shown to have a higher correlation to criminal and antisocial behaviors than other forms of abuse. The current research assessed antisocial personality traits and criminal behavior as outcomes of childhood physical abuse. Additionally, factors of resilience—mastery, sense of coherence, and ego resilience—were examined as moderators of this relationship. Community participants (N = 166) completed self-report measures to assess these variables. The mean age of the participants was 30.9 years (SD = 10.4). Almost half were male (n = 82, 49.4%). A majority of the sample was African-American (43.4%) or Caucasian (19.3%). Each participant completed the Personal Mastery Scale, the Sense of Coherence Scale, the Ego Resilience Scale, the Antisocial Features scale of the Personality Assessment Inventory, a modified version of the Self-Report of Offending-Revised, the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, and a demographic questionnaire. Results were analyzed using multiple regression analyses. Consistent with existing research, abuse was found to be significantly correlated with criminal behavior and antisocial personality traits. Resilience variables did not moderate the relationship between abuse and antisocial traits/crime. While resilience only accounted for a small amount of the relationship between childhood physical abuse, antisocial personality traits, and criminal behavior, the effect was significant. This study confirms that resilience as a personality trait can change the negative outcomes that can be associated with childhood physical abuse. More research should be done to operationalize resilience and further define its role. These findings carry important implications for research and clinical practice.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology|Personality psychology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Rohlehr, Lia Nicole, "The moderating effects of resilience in the relationship between childhood physical abuse, criminal behavior, and antisocial traits" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3643385.