top of page

Putting adversity in perspective: Purpose in life moderates the link between childhood emotional abuse and neglect and adulthood depressive symptoms.

Hartanto, A., Yong, J. C., Lee, T. H. S., Ng, W. Q., & Tong, E. M. W.



Background: Childhood emotional abuse and neglect is linked with a host of adverse outcomes later in life, including depression. However, potential psychological resources that may mitigate the adverse outcomes of childhood emotional abuse and neglect are not well-understood. Aims: Drawing from the insight that having a sense of purpose can help individuals deal with setbacks and difficulties better, we propose that purpose in life can also help sufferers of childhood maltreatment cope more effectively and reduce the onset of depressive symptoms. Methods: Participants were drawn from two large, nationally representative studies comprising a total of 3664 respondents. Purpose in life, childhood emotional abuse and neglect, and depressive symptoms were measured with validated scales. Results: We found convergent evidence that purpose in life attenuates the effect of childhood emotional abuse and neglect on subsequent depressive symptoms across a range of measures of mood and depression. Conclusions: The current study highlights the important role played by purpose in life in building resilience, coping against adverse life events, and psychological well-being.

bottom of page