Perception, affection, and protection: A study of ecological support and psychosocial adjustment among young African American males with histories of aggression

Elaine F Cassidy, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Of all adolescent racial, gender, and socioeconomic groups, young, urban African American males are at greatest risk for injury or death from acts of interpersonal aggression. This study was conducted to gain understanding of anger- and aggression-related behavior among 159 African American race males at an urban remedial disciplinary school. Participants ranged in age from 10 to 18 years (M = 14.53, SD = 1.91). The Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory (PVEST) and “both-and” thinking were used to frame this investigation of multivariate relationships involving anger- and aggression-related behavior among these males. Participants completed seven self-report measures that assessed three cultural ecological constructs (Racial Socialization, Kinship Support, and Neighborhood Social Capital) and four psychosocial outcomes (Anger Expression, Rejection Sensitivity, Depression, and Fear of Calamity). Four methods of analysis were conducted. First, correlational analyses were done to assess bivariate relationships among variables. Second, stepwise multiple regression was applied to determine which variables predicted outward anger expression and angry reactions to rejection. Third, cluster analyses were performed to assess groupings of perceived cultural ecological support. Fourth, a MANOVA was conducted to determine whether cultural ecological profile, rejection sensitivity, and depression affected mean differences in amounts of outward anger expression and angry reactions to rejection. Results indicated that high amounts of cultural socialization positively correlated with all of the psychosocial variables, except rejection sensitivity and angry reactions to rejection. Mainstream socialization was associated with perceived lack of support and high amounts of anger expression, rejection sensitivity, and depression. Outward anger expression and anger suppression positively correlated with rejection sensitivity, angry reactions to rejection, and depression. A significant positive correlation was found between expressed fear and depression. Rejection sensitivity and depression emerged as significant predictors of both outward anger and angry reactions to rejection among the males. These variables were categorized for use in MANOVA analyses. However, the MANOVA results yielded no significant findings. Results of the cluster analyses indicated that seven clusters emerged, showing that variability existed in youth's perceived exposure to cultural ecological support. Implications of the study and suggestions for anti-aggression intervention with African American males were discussed.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology|Black studies|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Cassidy, Elaine F, "Perception, affection, and protection: A study of ecological support and psychosocial adjustment among young African American males with histories of aggression" (2002). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3043857.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3043857

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