Title page for ETD etd-05092003-143421

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Francisco, Jenifer
Author's Email Address jfrancis@vt.edu
URN etd-05092003-143421
Title Social Information Processing as a Mediator of Exposure to Community Violence and Reactive and Proactive Aggression
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Scarpa-Friedman, Angela Committee Chair
Bell, Martha Ann Committee Member
Eisler, Richard M. Committee Member
  • Social Information Processing
  • Community Violence
  • Aggression
Date of Defense 2003-05-06
Availability unrestricted
The relationship between exposure to violence and aggression has been examined by many researchers. It has been reported that physically abused children and children from violent communities have more aggressive behavior than non-abused peers or peers from non-violent communities (Dodge et al., 1990; Dodge, 1993; Miller et al., 1999). In addition, it has been reported that children who are physically abused have social information processing deficits. However, the relationship between community violence exposure and aggression has yet to be fully explored. The present study proposed an underlying mechanism (i.e., social information processing deficits) that could be mediating the relationship between exposure to community violence and subsequent aggressive behavior. This study also looked at aggression more specifically and categorized the sample into reactive and proactive aggression.

Thirty-nine children, aged 7-13 years, from a mostly rural setting were recruited to participate in this study. Self-report measures of community violence exposure, social information processing deficits (i.e., hostile or instrumental biases), and aggression (i.e., reactive or proactive) were included while controlling for child abuse potential and conflict in the home.

The hypotheses of this study were not supported. Instead, the results supported a relationship between child abuse potential, social information processing biases, and aggression. Child abuse potential remained significant throughout the analyses, which suggests that it plays a larger role in the manifestation of aggressive behavior in children than does community violence exposure. Overall, the findings from this study are consistent with Dodge’s work and has implications for treating children who are aggressive.

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