Graham, Baylor A., , Sinclair, Robert R. , "The Chains of the Past: A Life Course Perspective on Childhood Adversity and Organizational Attitudes and Behaviors," Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Jun2024, Vol. 29 Issue 3, p155-173

Childhood adversity stains the past of millions of working adults worldwide. The impact on health and well-being is substantial—a now-acknowledged public health crisis. Yet, research in the organizational sciences has failed to recognize the burden that individuals with this difficult history carry with them into the workforce. By synthesizing an interdisciplinary body of scholarship into a cohesive theoretical framework, we provide a foundation for emerging work in occupational health psychology. Empirically, across two single-level multiwave studies, we demonstrate the importance of adversity in one’s childhood and its impact on the workplace specifically showing that child adversity, directly and indirectly, impacts worker attitudes and discretionary behaviors. Further, providing one of the few examinations of stress proliferation theory in the workplace, we demonstrate adulthood adversity as an essential mediating mechanism that leads to these work outcomes. From an applied perspective, our results highlight a need to focus on the healing and recovery of adult survivors as they work toward breaking the chains of the past in their lives and at work. In presenting this life course perspective on organizational attitudes and behaviors, our work offers a unique and vital contribution to occupational health theory, practice, and research.