Childhood Exposure to Violence and the Acquisition of Aggressive Social Cognitions in Young Adulthood : A Longitudinal Study Among Urban Youth
Souweidane, Mariam A.
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Exposure to violence influences the acquisition of aggressive social cognitions (i.e., rehearsing more aggressive scripts and endorsing normative beliefs condoning aggression), thus increasing the risk for subsequent violent behavior. The present study examined the relation between youth exposure to media violence, family violence, and community violence, on the development of aggressive social cognitions in young adulthood, through a longitudinal study of urban, predominantly African American, youth (N = 425). Data was obtained through four waves of interviews with children (206 females and 219 males) from Flint, Michigan, across three grade cohorts (second, fourth, and ninth), to assess their exposure to violence across various domains, and their social cognitions about aggression. Results indicated that African Americans were exposed to more community violence than other races, and exposure to higher rates of media violence during the first three waves, was associated with more aggressive social cognitions during the fourth wave of the study. It was also found that children who were exposed to more media violence during the first three waves displayed more aggressive script rehearsal during the fourth wave of the study. In future studies, we hope to analyze how the acquisition of social cognitions affect violent behavior, as literature has demonstrated that rehearsing more aggressive scripts and endorsing normative beliefs condoning aggression, increases one’s risk for violent behavior.