Life History Evolution Forms the Foundation of the Adverse Childhood Experience Pyramid

Steven Hertler, Tomás Cabeza de Baca, Mateo Peñaherrera-Aguirre, Heitor B.F. Fernandes, Aurelio José Figueredo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are situated as the foundation of a six-tier pyramid, above which rests: (1) disrupted neurodevelopment; (2) social, emotional, and cognitive impairment; (3) adoption of health-risk behaviors; (4) disease, disability, and social problems; and (5) early death. ACEs purportedly initiate a causal sequence of negative developmental, behavioral, social, and cognitive outcomes, culminating in heightened mortality risk. Militating against this causal explanation, life history evolution is herein hypothesized to be the true foundation of any such pyramid. Subsuming ACEs within a life history framework has two broad implications: First, to some extent, ACEs are effectively changed from cause to correlate; second ACEs are seen as markers of strategic life history variation, not markers of dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-104
Number of pages16
JournalEvolutionary Psychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • ACEs
  • Abuse
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Life history
  • Longevity
  • Mating
  • Parental effort
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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