Lower Emotional Awareness Is Associated With Greater Early Adversity and Faster Life History Strategy

Ryan Smith, Horst Dieter Steklis, Netzin Steklis, Karen L. Weihs, John J.B. Allen, Richard D. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recent theoretical work suggests that emotional awareness (EA) depends on the harshness/predictability of early social interactions—and that low EA may in fact be adaptive in harsh environments that lack predictable interpersonal interactions. In evolutionary psychology, this process of psychological “calibration” to early environments corresponds to life history strategy (LHS). In this article, we tested the relationship between EA and LHS in 177 (40 male) individuals who completed the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS), Arizona Life History Battery (short form: K-SF-42), and 2 measures of early abuse/neglect. Significantly lower EA was observed in those with faster LHS and who had experienced greater early adversity. Notably, LEAS was associated with differences in (a) general reflective cognition, and (b) emotional support from parents during childhood. This suggests that variations in EA may arise during development based on the benefits of cognitive reflection in environments with different levels of harshness and social predictability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEvolutionary Behavioral Sciences
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Development
  • Early childhood adversity
  • Emotional awareness
  • Life history strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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