Social cognition as a mediator of the influence of family and community violence on adolescent development: Implications for intervention

Catherine P. Bradshaw, James Garbarino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Several studies have shown that exposure to family and community violence during childhood and adolescence is associated with an increased risk for development of externalizing behavior problems, but less is known about specific mechanisms that mediate this relation. Variations in social cognition serve as one possible mechanism by which these environmental experiences influence aggressive behavior during adolescence. Children who have been maltreated tend to display negatively biased social-cognitive processing styles, which may in turn increase their likelihood of reacting aggressively in ambiguous social situations. Similarly, witnessing community violence is associated with aspects of social cognition, including beliefs that support aggressive responses to threat. Recent studies also suggest that exposure to extreme forms of stress and violence can produce changes in children's neurobiology that may increase their hypersensitivity and reactivity to interpersonal threat. Some of the strongest evidence of the role of social cognition as a mechanism in this association comes from intervention studies which reduced aggressive behavior by targeting negatively biased social-cognitive processing styles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-105
Number of pages21
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume1036
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2004

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Aggression
  • Attachment
  • Community violence
  • Development
  • Maltreatment
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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