Date of Award

August 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Nadya Fouad

Committee Members

Leah Rouse, Xu Li, Kelsey Autin


Childhood Trauma, Decent Work, Psychology of Working Theory, PTSD, Structural Equation Modeling


This study used structural equation modeling to examine the impact of childhood trauma on decent work. Childhood trauma was added as an exogenous variable in the Psychology of Working Theory (PWT) model and hypothesized to have direct and indirect effects on decent work. An online sample of 643 working adults completed PWT measures and a measure on childhood trauma. Additionally, participants completed a single Likert-type item measure assessing negative impact of COVID-19 on work so that model invariance could examined among two high and low impact groups. Group invariance was satisfied at the configural, metric, and scalar levels, and the sample as a whole was examined. The fit of the measurement model of the sample satisfactory, and the structural model both demonstrated a good fit to the data. Childhood trauma was shown to have a significant direct effect on decent work. Additionally, a bootstrap procedure used to examine indirect effects showed that childhood trauma had an indirect effect on decent work through work volition, but not through career adaptability. All together, adding childhood trauma to the PWT model as an exogenous contextual factor accounted for an additional 3.4% of variance in decent work. Implications of the findings are discussed both as they relate to future research and clinical practice of vocational psychology. Findings suggest that incorporating a trauma-informed approach into career counseling is warranted.