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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Aggression in inner-city youth: The role of community violence, emotions, and emotion regulation.

Author: Rubin, Shulamit Helene
Author Background: Long Island U, The Brooklyn Center, US
Date 7/2000
Type Dissertation
Journal Title: Dissertation-Abstracts-International:-Section-B:-The-Sciences-and-Engineering
Volume/Pages Vol 61(1-B): 547
Subject Matter Aggressive-Behavior; *Anger-; *Emotional-Control; *Fear-; *Violence, Shame, Research, Community, Social Environment
Abstract There is evidence of a distinct relation between exposure to community violence and aggression in youth. The present study explored a model in which emotion variables mediated and moderated this relation. It was hypothesized that exposure to community violence would be associated with the development of a triad of emotional traits (high anger and shame, low fear), which was hypothesized to relate to aggressive behavior. It was further hypothesized that an emotion regulation strategy of expression would mitigate the potency of these affects, while withdrawing and distracting strategies would strengthen it. Additionally, it was predicted that victimization would lead to heightened shame. Sixty girls and fifty-six boys aged 13 to 16 from an inner-city neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York were administered self-report measures on exposure to community violence, emotion variables, level of aggression, and exposure to family violence (a covariate). Participants' counselors completed a measure of participants' aggression. Participants reported extremely high prevalence rates of exposure to community violence. Boys' rates were significantly higher than girls'. Several series of regression analyses tested the hypothesized relations. Results confirmed a positive association between exposure to community violence and aggression for girls, with anger serving as a mediator. For boys, no significant relations were found although a positive relation between exposure to community violence and fear approached significance. These findings implied that gender is a decisive factor in the consequences of exposure to community violence. It was found that expressive strategies lead to a stronger relation between shame and aggression, while distracting strategies lead to a weaker association between fear and aggression, which ran counter to the directions which had been predicted. Additionally, victimization was not associated with shame. The findings of the study are interpreted using a functionalist model which explores the adaptive value of emotion traits and emotion regulation strategies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2000 APA, all rights reserved)