Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

The link between aggression and criminal activity in urban, low-income African American neighborhoods has resulted in many studies examining the predictive role of individual and neighborhood characteristics in the development of aggressive behaviors. Factors such as neighborhood violence, poverty, perceptions of neighborhood danger have consistently been linked to poor behavioral outcomes in urban youth (Colder, Mott, Levy, & Flay, 2000; Sampson, Raudenbush, & Earls, 1997), whereas perceptions of neighborhood cohesion have been associated with reduced externalizing behavior in children (Silk, Sessa, Sheffield Morris, Steinberg, & Avenevoli, 2004). The purpose of this paper was to examine, through the use of multilevel longitudinal analysis, the role of neighborhood disadvantage (rates of poverty and crime) and perceptions of neighborhood problems and cohesion on the development of aggressive behavior among a sample of urban low-income African American middle school aged youth (mean age = 11.65 years). Results indicated that youth experienced significant changes in rates of aggression across the three years, and that on average, negative youth perceptions of neighborhood predicted increases in aggression. Additionally, neighborhood characteristics trended towards significance as a moderator between negative youth perceptions and aggression. These results are in accordance with past research, which suggests that personal evaluations of the disadvantage of a neighborhood influence child development and behavior (Silk, Sessa, Sheffield Morris, Steinberg, & Avenevoli, 2004). Future studies

should examine the role that perceptions play in youth development, as well as in interventions geared towards thwarting youth aggression.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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