Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department/Program

Forensic Psychology

Language

English

First Advisor

Maureen Allwood

Second Reader

Diana M. Falkenbach

Third Advisor

Charles B. Stone

Abstract

The effect of exposure to community violence has received increasing attention in recent years, given its prevalence and negative psychological and behavioral consequences on adolescents, including aggression (Lambert et al., 2018). The existing literature links violence exposure to hostile interpretation of situations (Dodge et al., 1990; Huesmann, 1988), and hostile interpretations to aggressive responses (Bradshaw et al., 2009; Crick & Dodge, 1994; Dodge et al., 1990). However, most studies have focused on parenting practices and within home violence. Few studies have examined the possible mediating role of hostile attribution bias in the relationship between community violence exposure and youth aggression, especially within a frame of social information processing. Therefore, the current study aimed to examine the associations among community violence exposure, hostile interpretation, and aggressive behaviors using a hostile attribution measure that captures different stages of social information processing. The archival self-report data of 100, primarily female, participants were examined using descriptive statistics, chi-square analyses, t-test analyses and a logistic regression analysis. The result showed that 13 participants (13%) interpreted either one of the two hypothetical ambiguous situations as potentially hostile. Contrary to hypothesis, on average, community violence exposure and aggressive behavior for participants with and without hostile attribution bias were not statistically different from each other. However, the associations were in the expected directions and the effect sizes are reported for this small, under-powered sample.

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