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Preview: Journal of Community Psychology

Journal of Community Psychology

Wiley Online Library : Journal of Community Psychology

Published: 2018-03-01T00:00:00-05:00


A framework of Afrocentric hope: Rural South African children's conceptualizations of hope


There is a growing need to explore and understand indigenous knowledge and subjective experiences around hope from children raised in rural African communities. This engagement sought to address the question: What are rural South African primary school children's conceptualizations of hope? A visual participatory methodology (using collage-making, drawing, Mmogo method, and photovoice) enabled an exploration of hope with 12 children (9-13 years) attending an aftercare center in rural QwaQwa region of South Africa. Using evidence generated from the study, and drawing on Scioli's theory of integrated hope, this article posits a framework of Afrocentric hope that develops along four interdependent and interrelated levels: contextual, personal, relational, and collective. These interactions are mediated by the spiritual/cultural worldview dimension. Understanding rural South African children's perspectives of hope contributes toward engagements aimed at nurturing, shaping, and strengthening hope in collective-oriented communities.

Listening local: Community perceptions of fresh food resources in Greater Little Rock


A research team from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service partnered with community stakeholders to study fresh food access in Central Arkansas. The purpose of this study was to inform decision making on options to reduce food insecurity in two target neighborhoods. The study included three components: (a) interviews at food pantries, (b) online surveys with local experts, and (c) asset mapping of the healthy food resources in the target neighborhoods. Findings reveal that cost and transportation present barriers to fresh food access in the target neighborhoods. Furthermore, residents support mobile markets and community gardens as viable options for increasing food access. The process of understanding food insecurity discussed in this study can provide a model for other communities in addressing urban food security issues. Each community is unique; thus, community based research should be undertaken in the community prior to interventions that address food access and nutrition.

Community stigma, internalized homonegativity, enacted stigma, and HIV testing among young men who have sex with men


HIV testing is an important HIV prevention strategy for young men who have sex with men (YMSM) in the United States, but the relationships between community- and individual-level aspects of sexuality-related stigma and HIV testing among YMSM are unknown. Data from a cross-sectional survey included 334 HIV-negative YMSM in Detroit. Multinomial logistic regression was used to determine if place-based community prejudice perceptions, internalized homonegativity, and sexuality-related discrimination were associated with HIV testing. Increased perceptions of community prejudice were associated with lower odds of never testing, while increased internalized homonegativity was associated with greater odds of never testing. Experiences of discrimination had no association with HIV testing. Understanding the influence of sexuality-related stigma (and especially place-specific, community-level stigma) on HIV testing could help improve public health messaging to increase HIV testing among YMSM.

Reflections on community psychology's past and future: What if a stitch in time only saves six?


This paper expands comments made upon receipt of the Distinguished Contributions to Theory and Research in Community Psychology, August 2015. Examination of the discipline's originating intent is reviewed as a foundation for considering its potential for distinguishing it from other social and behavioral sciences.

The interacting effects of psychological empowerment and ethnic identity on indicators of well-being among youth of color


Decades of legislative actions and power imbalances have limited African American/Black and Hispanic/Latina(o) urban youth's perceptions of empowerment and ability to rely upon social and institutional resources. Youth who have access to supportive resources and are connected to their ethnic–racial group perceive themselves as empowered and score higher on indicators of well-being. Among a sample of African American/Black and Hispanic/Latina(o) urban youth (N = 383) and using multivariate analysis of variance, the current study examined the relationship between psychological empowerment (PE) and ethnic identity among conceptually relevant outcome variables: community participation, neighborhood sense of community (SOC), school importance, and perceived substance use risk. Results indicated that PE and ethnic identity profile groups differed significantly on measures of community participation, neighborhood SOC, school importance, and perceived risk of using substances. Results provide preliminary support for the empirical and theoretical relationship between PE and ethnic identity on related empowerment measures, as well as indicators of well-being. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Contextualizing the mental health of metal youth: A community for social protection, identity, and musical empowerment


Metal identities are popularly represented as leading to mental health issues but with flawed evidence. We documented the community contexts around metal and well-being by talking to young metalheads directly. We engaged in repeated, informal talks with 28 young Australians who strongly identified with metal (aged 18–24 years, 5 females and 23 males), and found that the metal identities and community protected them from mental health problems. Four core themes were found from transcripts: they were all bullied or marginalized through social relationships at school; they enjoyed the impact of metal music and lyrics when angry or ostracized; they felt part of a protective community of metalheads, even though in many cases at this age it was more imagined than real; and embodying metal identities enabled them to keep bullies, detractors, and others at bay, and to find friend groups. By talking repeatedly, directly with young metalheads, it was found that metal identities were helping participants to survive the stress of challenging environments and build strong and sustained identities and communities, thus alleviating any potential mental health issues.

The mediating effect of cognitive emotion regulation strategies in the relationship between perceived social support and resilience in postwar youth


This article presents research aimed to investigate the effect of perceived social support on an individual's resilience, with the assumption that it is, at least partially, indirect and that it is achieved through cognitive emotion regulation strategies. The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale, Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support were used with a sample group of young adults, comprising 319 respondents from a student population of both genders. The results indicated that the perceived support of family, friends, and a significant other is a significant predictive factor for resilience–the more present these factors are, the greater the resilience. The relationship between the perceived support of friends and resilience is partially direct, and partially indirect, whereby both planning and positive reappraisal have the role of mediators. These results lead to the conclusion that the perceived support of friends is a significant protective factor for mental health, partially because of the fact that it makes an individual more prepared to see a certain stressful situation as an opportunity for personal growth and to actively confront it.

Positive youth development and adolescent eating disorder symptomatology: The role of natural mentors


Natural mentoring relationships have been linked to diverse outcomes in youth; however, little research has examined the role of natural mentors in adolescent eating disorder symptomatology. The present study applied a strength-based, positive youth development (PYD) perspective to examine the cross-sectional relations among disordered eating attitudes and behaviors, PYD, and natural mentoring relationships. We used data from 975 9th-grade youth (61.1% female; meanage = 15.01, standard deviation = 0.73) who participated in the 4-H Study of PYD. Natural mentoring relationships had a differential association with outcomes based on youth sex. Natural mentors were linked to higher levels of PYD in both males and females, but these relationships were more strongly linked to eating disorder symptomatology and PYD in males. Having a natural mentor predicted significantly lower body dissatisfaction in males, but not in females. Natural mentoring relationships did buffer the relation between drive for thinness symptoms and PYD in females. The present study provides evidence for the benefits natural mentors may provide to youth reporting disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. The findings suggest taking an ecological approach to eating disorder symptomatology and ways youth–adult partnerships can be leveraged or nurtured to promote positive and healthy development.

A latent class exploration of adolescent recovery capital


Recovery capital, an ecological model, has been primarily used to study substance use disorder recovery among adults; however, as adolescents comprised 5.1% of substance treatment admissions in 2015 (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 2016), it is worth empirically exploring this model with specific attention to this population. Conditional latent variable mixture model analysis using the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health explored whether there were observable classes of recovery capital among adolescents who needed treatment (N = 1,171) and whether sex, race, age, and history of substance use treatment differentiated class membership. The analysis revealed a 5-class model of recovery capital classes: resource-wealthy; strong social, weak community; religious, resource-poor; strong community; secular, weak community. The religious, resource-poor class was more likely to be a minority than all other classes and to be older. There were 5 qualitatively distinct patterns of recovery capital among adolescents, including a group who may be particularly vulnerable to relapse given their few capital resources.

A gateway to healing: A community-based brief intervention for victims of violence


Interventions for victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) is a public health priority. This study used semistructured, in-depth interviews to explore key features and self-reported changes associated with a community-based, trauma-informed brief intervention (TIBI) for victims of IPV. Using open coding of transcripts and cross-case analysis to determine prominent patterns and themes within and between participants, TIBI was perceived as beneficial, safe, and innovative. Positive changes, including improved physical health, psychological well-being, quality of life, confidence, hope, and personal control, were reported and maintained postintervention. Key features of the intervention were described as increased IPV knowledge, which women attributed as the gateway to healing, learning how to reframe thoughts in a productive way and developing various skills in coping with IPV. This research provides preliminary evidence that a community-based TIBI is both acceptable to clients and potentially useful in reducing the negative consequences of IPV.

How many factors does the sense of community index assess?


Studies of university students’ sense of community (SOC) use various scales, one of which is the widely used Sense of Community Index (SCI), conceptualized as a 4-factor model: membership, influence, needs fulfillment, and shared emotional connection. Research has been unable to show a reliable 4-factor solution. One possible explanation may be that negatively worded items contribute to lack of model fit, which would be consistent with the claim that SOC was conceptualized as a unipolar positive construct. Data were collected using a positively worded SCI (N = 794). Four models were tested with confirmatory factor analysis in structural equation modeling: 1-factor, theorized four-factor, revised 3-factor, and revised 4-factor. None of the models showed good fit, though the fit of the 1-factor model was improved over the 4-factor. More studies are needed to attempt replication with a positively worded SCI.

Church and family support networks and depressive symptoms among African Americans: Findings from The National Survey of American Life


Aims: We examined the associations between informal social support from church members and social support from extended family members and depressive symptoms within a national probability sample of African American adults ranging in age from 18 to 93. Methods: This analysis used data from the National Survey of American Life and accounted for religious service attendance and various demographic variables that have known associations with and are consequential for mental health. Results: Frequency of contact with church and family members and emotional support from family were inversely associated with depressive symptoms, and negative church and family interactions were positively associated with depressive symptoms. Emotional support from church members, however, was unrelated to depressive symptoms. Conclusion: This study underscores the important contributions of church relationships to depressive symptoms among African Americans across the adult life span, and confirms that these associations are independent of family relationship factors and religious service attendance.

Parenting in the community: A service evaluation of a universal, voluntary sector parenting intervention


Evidence based parenting programs have been shown to improve parenting competence and reduce child behavior problems. More rigorous evaluations of such programs are needed in community contexts. This study provides such an evaluation of The Parenting Children Course, a voluntary sector program that is being run both Live and on DVD within a church context. A total of 225 parents participated in the study. Standardized questionnaires were used to measure key parenting variables before and after the course, and at follow-up 3 months later. Taking the course improved parents’ confidence and reduced parental negativity, but did not improve positive parenting skills. Parents reported that child behavior and family functioning also improved by the end of the course. There were no signs of decay at 3-month follow-up. Strengths and limitations of the study, implications for clinical practice and directions for future research, are discussed.

Social antecedents in physical activity: Tracking the self-determination theory sequence in adolescents


The aim of the study was to test the self determination theory (SDT) sequence to predict physical activity (PA) and intention to be active during adolescence: social factors (father, mother, friends, and physical education teacher) basic psychological needs (BPN) types of motivation were assessed PA and intention to be active. Participants were 1,150 adolescents, Mage = 15.01 (1.55), who completed questionnaires. Structural equation modeling supports the SDT sequence model. Results revealed that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation positively predicted both PA and intention to be active while amotivation did so negatively. Moreover, social factors behaved differently with BPN, finding positive relationships between father, friends, and physical education teachers with competence, autonomy, and relatedness, whereas mother's support does not influence the sequence. The study shed light on the SDT theory to provide a better understanding of physical activity behaviors and intentions during adolescence.

Classroom relationships, sense of community, perceptions of justice, and collective efficacy for students’ social well-being


A review of literature suggests a lack of studies analyzing the correlates of school context to social well-being (SWB). By integrating the perspective of community psychology and social cognition, this study uses structural equation model to examine the effect of classroom climate, classroom sense of community, collective efficacy, and justice beliefs on students SWB. The study involves 390 high school students (58.6% females) between the ages of 13 and 20 years. The results show that classroom relationships as indicator of classroom climate and sense of community are associated with collective efficacy. Furthermore, collective efficacy, sense of community, and relational and procedural justice correlate with SWB. We discuss the implications of this finding for the positive development of adolescents and school-based intervention programs.

Influence of social participation on life satisfaction and depression among Chinese elderly: Social support as a mediator


This study explored the influences of social participation and the mediating effects of social support on the mental health of Chinese elderly based on data from the 2012 China Longitudinal Aging Social Survey (CLASS). The participants comprised 696 older adults in CLASS, including 340 (48.9%) male and 354 (50.9%) female. The mean age of the sample was 68 (standard deviation = 7.08). The results of structural equation modeling showed that social participation was significantly associated with the life satisfaction and depression of the elderly. A high level of social participation was associated with more social support and consequently predicted few depressive symptoms among older adults. However, social support was not significantly associated with life satisfaction of the elderly. Our findings provided cross-cultural evidence for theories, and had significant implications for social work practice and social policy.

Discursive context and language as action: A demonstration using critical discourse analysis to examine discussions about human trafficking in Hawai‘i


Community psychology has long valued understanding the contextual issues that maintain social problems. The present study demonstrates the use of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to examine the discursive context surrounding the issue of human trafficking. CDA was used to understand the ways that local stakeholders in Hawai‘i (N = 13) described the issue of human trafficking. Human trafficking is well suited for this type of analysis because it is a controversial phenomenon, surrounded by highly politicized rhetoric. Results showed that participants tended to use different combinations of discourses related to labor, immigration, sex, gender, children, and consent to discuss human trafficking. Discourses on consent were found to be key areas of contention in most constructions of human trafficking, with many participants painting trafficked persons as having limited ability to consent to their situation. Groups that are complicit in benefiting from trafficking offenses were rarely named. The implications of obscuring the complicity of those in power while casting vulnerable groups as one-dimensional victims are discussed.

Volunteer motivation: A field study examining why some do more, while others do less


In nonprofit organizations, motivating volunteers for particular activities is challenging because they can take place in unstructured environments. Therefore, members are disengaged despite their initial commitment to the cause. An important opportunity in the literature is to examine motivation from the perspective of the volunteer; and, more specifically, to test for the differential impact that self-efficacy, collective efficacy, and perceived organizational support have on three motivational outcomes: effort, performance, and satisfaction. Our focus is on volunteer motivation to support a specific event or project. Teasing out the impact of one's efficacious beliefs about their group at the individual level is an important contribution that has yet to be examined. Using data from 285 volunteers, results indicate that collective efficacy and perceived organizational support positively influence volunteer satisfaction. An important contrast we confirmed, unlike self-efficacy and perceived organizational support, was collective efficacy's negative relationship to effort, which in turn affected performance. We were able to isolate the unique relationships, corroborating extant research with respect to self-efficacy and perceived organizational support. As a result, the potential for spurious relationships was ruled out, adding credibility to the new findings.



Resilience and adjustment to widowhood in the Israeli Arab Muslim society: A new perspective


Research on bereavement and loss is often concentrated on sustaining meaning in life and maintaining emotional well-being, despite the psychological impact of loss. However, this research rarely examined empirically what determines the resilience of the bereaved. The present study posits that resilience of widows is a dual construct representing the ratio of their strength and vulnerability (SVR). This ratio of protective factors and risk factors, which was validated in studies of resilience to the effects of war, terrorist attacks, or fire disaster, is presently examined by the balance of posttraumatic growth to distress symptoms of 93 Israeli Arab Muslim widows. Results show that SVR and resilience promoting personality attributes are consistently correlated with beneficial and detrimental responses to a loss of a husband. Results are discussed in terms of cultural effects on mourning, and the validity of the SVR index.

‘You opened my mind’: Latinx immigrant and receiving community interactional dynamics in the United States


Communities are continually shaped by immigration. As immigrants join receiving community members as members of the same community, all must co-navigate emergent and evolving relationships. These intergroup relations can range from quite positive, marked by mutual enrichment and engagement, to quite negative, marked by prejudice and discrimination. This study seeks to illuminate immigrant and receiving community member relations by exploring what factors play a role in each group's attitudes and actions toward, and experiences with, one another. Thirty first- and second-generation immigrants from Latin America and 30 third-generation or more U.S.-born respondents participated in semistructured interviews, which were thematically analyzed. Results indicated that while both intergroup contact (Allport, 1954) and the formation of common in-group identities (Gaertner, Dovidio, & Bachman, 1996) helped to create positive intergroup relations, numerous personal characteristics–including values and beliefs, visible features, and relative power–affected experiences and attitudes. Further, in the absence of knowledge based on direct contact, media played a strong role in shaping attitudes toward both groups of community members. These findings show how attitudes and actions of immigrants and receiving community members are each shaped by experiences, or lack thereof, between these groups. Moreover, this pathway is iterative and reciprocal. Therefore, efforts aimed at increasing and improving positive intergroup relations must consider the bidirectional iterative process and experiences of both groups.

Investigating motivation and engagement in an urban afterschool arts and leadership program


Despite the potential benefits of afterschool arts-based programs on development, urban youth in low-income areas are unlikely to participate in these activities. The aim of the current study was to investigate motivation and engagement in an arts and leadership afterschool program among 10 urban, predominantly African American youth. We took a mixed-methods approach, as limited research has examined motivational processes in arts-based programs. Youth identified program content, staff, and peers as important sources of motivation. Specifically, the program leader played multiple roles in youths’ lives, and it is critical to pay careful attention to how youth experience and learn to navigate these complex relationships. Youth especially valued opportunities to develop a sense of competence (e.g., learn teamwork skills) and engage in identity work (e.g., gain a better sense of themselves), and they envisioned their program participation having a positive influence on motivation in their everyday lives outside of program activities.

Gender differences in the processes linking public stigma and self-disclosure among college students with mental illness


This study investigated predictors of self-disclosure among college students with mental illness. Participants were 1,393 current college students with a mental illness at 5 universities. Moderated mediation tests were used to analyze the data. Findings of the analysis reveal that public stigma is associated with mental illness disclosure among college students in part because it is associated with an increased perceived stress burden, particularly among men. Implications for future research and program development are discussed, with an emphasis on how public stigma and gender ideologies inform students’ decisions to acknowledge and address a mental health problem.

Socioeconomic status and children's mental health: Understanding the mediating effect of social relations in Mainland China


This study aimed to explore the relationships among socioeconomic status (SES), social relations, and children's mental health. A sample of 19,487 school-aged children was collected from the 2013–2014 wave of the China Education Panel Survey. Structural equation modeling was conducted with Amos (version 21) to test our theoretical model. Results showed that SES was not significantly related to children's mental health, whereas parent–child relations, peer relations, and teacher–student relations elicited complete mediating effects on the relationship between SES and children's mental health. On the basis of these findings, relevant theoretical and practical implications were proposed.

Altruism as a buffer for antisocial behavior for African American adolescents exposed to community violence


Altruistic prosocial behavior during adolescence is consistently associated with a myriad of positive outcomes including fewer risk-taking behaviors and greater positive affect. Although limited, some literature suggests altruism may be an important protective factor in attenuating the effects of stressful life events such as exposure to community violence. Unfortunately, work examining altruism in African American adolescents is quite limited. The study examined the moderating role of altruism on relationships between exposure to violence and antisocial behavior in a sample of African American adolescents (136 females, 71 males). Participant's age ranged from 13 to 18. Results indicated that boys and girls engaged in similar levels of altruistic behaviors, but these behaviors were especially important in moderating the effects of community violence on antisocial behaviors for boys. The findings suggest that encouraging altruistic behaviors in boys may be critical in improving outcomes for adolescent males developing in violent ecologies.

Mental health therapists’ perceptions of their readiness to address the intersection of intimate partner violence and suicide


Our aim is characterize mental health therapists’ self-efficacy pertaining to working with patients at risk for intimate partner violence (IPV) and suicide at a community mental health center (CMHC), where these issues intersect. Consistent with community-based participatory research, a multidisciplinary team partnered with an urban CMHC in New York to conduct 3 focus groups comprising 23 therapists. We iteratively coded and mapped prevalent themes according to self-efficacy theory. Therapists described multiple sources of self-efficacy: successful achievement of tasks such as demonstrating a mastery of local resources and knowledge of therapeutic strategies for IPV-involved clients; vicarious experiences including homicide–suicide portrayals in the media; verbally persuading patients regarding treatment engagement; and physiologic reactions, including distress and burnout. Therapists feel equipped to address patients’ needs, but they want more information on IPV and suicide. Perhaps most surprising was the frustration and isolation participants discussed regarding working with physicians and agencies outside their office walls. Interdisciplinary dialogue and case conferencing may enhance patient care and safety.

The influence of coping strategies on quality of life in a community facing environmental and economic threats


The study investigated the quality of life in a community facing a technological disaster causing environmental and economic damages. For years, the Italian city of Taranto has based its economy on a big steel plant. The industrial plant caused severe environmental pollution, negatively affecting the health of residents living in an area of the city. The steel mill is now under judicial investigation and may be closed in the future, causing the loss of jobs for many citizens. By means of a questionnaire, we investigated the influence of coping strategies on quality of life and place attachment and the effects of being under the environmental (i.e., living in the contaminated area) and the economic (working for the steel mill) threat on these variables. Results showed that living in the contaminated area had negative effects on quality of life both directly and indirectly, lowering place attachment and increasing avoidant coping. Working for the plant had negative effects on the environmental dimension of quality of life.