Positive Childhood Experiences Associate with Adult Flourishing Amidst Adversity: A Cross Sectional Survey Study with a National Sample of Young Adults

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Nov 13;19(22):14956. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192214956.


The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of PCEs among young adults in Mainland China and the extent to which the cumulative number of PCEs moderates the associations between ACEs and flourishing in adulthood. Between August and November 2020, we used convenience and snowball sampling to recruit 9468 young adults, ages 18-35, enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs at universities in Mainland China to participate in a survey, which included measures on flourishing, exposure to ACEs and PCEs, and demographic characteristics. Approximately 92% of participants reported experiencing seven to nine PCEs, with harmonious family relationships (96.9%), feeling supported by friends (96.8%) and being treated fairly at school (96.3%) being the most common PCEs reported. Results of the multiple regression indicated that the cumulative number of PCEs statistically significantly moderated the relation between the cumulative number of ACEs and flourishing (interaction term b = -0.060 [-0.071, -0.049], p < 0.001, adjusted R2 = 0.183); as the number of ACEs increased up through eight ACEs, decreases in flourishing were smaller among those with higher numbers of PCEs. PCEs are common among young adults from Mainland China and serve a potential buffering effect against exposure to ACEs.

Keywords: adverse childhood experiences; flourishing; positive childhood experiences; surveys; well-being; young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Research Personnel
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This study is supported by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Nursing Innovation Grant (HLDC20-13) and Innovative Research Team of High-Level Local Universities in Shanghai (SHSMU-ZDCX20212800). The funder had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.