Adolescents' Appraisal of Responses to Problem Situations and Their Relation to Aggression and Nonviolent Behavior

Albert D. Farrell, Amie F. Bettencourt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: This study investigated adolescents' appraisals of responses to problematic situations and their relations to behavioral intentions for aggressive and nonviolent behavior. A key question was whether ratings of effective and ineffective nonviolent responses and aggressive responses reflect distinct constructs or opposite ends of a single dimension. Method: A sample of 183 students at 3 middle schools in an urban public school system serving a mostly African American population completed measures of aggression and rated responses to hypothetical situations on 5 dimensions: behavioral intention, effectiveness, descriptive norms, and anticipated reactions from friends and parents. Responses included nonviolent responses and aggressive responses to problematic situations identified in previous qualitative studies. Nonviolent responses were categorized as effective or ineffective based on ratings by a community sample of youth and adults. Results: Confirmatory factor analyses supported separate factors representing ratings of effective responses and aggressive responses for each domain. Regression analyses indicated that ratings of aggressive responses were more strongly related to aggressive intentions, and ratings of effective responses were more strongly related to intentions to use effective responses. Adolescents who varied in their level of aggression differed in their ratings of aggressive and nonviolent responses. Those reporting higher levels of aggression showed less differentiation between effective and ineffective nonviolent responses compared with those reporting lower levels. Conclusions: These findings underscore the need for further efforts to identify factors that promote effective nonviolent behavior versus those that support aggression. They have important implications for the development of violence prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Violence
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • African American adolescents
  • Aggression
  • Effectiveness
  • Nonviolent behavior
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology

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