College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-9-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Joanna Buscemi, PhD

Second Advisor

Jocelyn Carter, PhD


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that occur before an individual reaches age 18, and previous research has shown that they are associated with numerous negative physical and mental health outcomes, including increased rates of depression, alcohol and substance use, disordered patterns of overeating, food addiction (FA), and obesity. Moreover, anhedonia, or an inability to feel pleasure, has been also shown to increase risk for alcohol and substance use, as well as FA and obesity. There is a lack of research on the specific role of anhedonia in the relationship between ACEs and FA/substance use. It is possible that anhedonia may play an important mediating role as individuals with anhedonia may seek out highly hedonic activities. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to explore the direct and indirect relationship between ACEs and alcohol use disorder (AUD) and FA symptoms via the mediating role of anhedonia in a diverse sample of emerging adults with histories of heavy drinking. Data analyses were conducted using Mplus version 8.7. A confirmatory factor analysis was used to specify the model and structural equation modeling was used to test the hypotheses. The initial measurement model was overidentified and demonstrated acceptable to favorable fit. Standardized results from a bootstrap analysis of the structural regression model showed significant direct effects of ACEs on FA and AUD symptoms. Results also found a significant indirect effect of ACEs on AUD symptoms through anhedonia, though this indirect effect was not significant for FA. Anhedonia could be a key target for the prevention and treatment of problematic alcohol use. Future research should examine the role of anhedonia in the maintenance of FA in non-heavy drinking samples.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons