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Journal of Community Psychology

Wiley Online Library : Journal of Community Psychology

Published: 2017-11-01T00:00:00-05:00


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.

‘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.

Young sexual minority women's definition of community: Toward addressing health disparities in the LGBTQQ community


In accord with Healthy People 2020 goals, the elimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) health disparities will require community-level strategies to address stigma, discrimination, and prejudice linked to poor health. We explored how young sexual minority women (YSMW) define LGBTQQ community, community connection, community engagement, and community tensions because these concepts have implications for development and evaluation of health disparities interventions. A total of 30 YSMW (aged 18–24 years) from Michigan participated in semistructured, in-depth interviews. Participants varied by sexual identity, residency, and race/ethnicity. We analyzed transcribed interviews using thematic analysis and compared emergent themes across sexual identity, residency, and race/ethnicity. Women described community connection in terms of organizational involvement, participation in LGBTQQ spaces, and collective social identity. Participants noted how community connections were linked to stigma towards the LGBTQQ community. YSMW highlighted how divisive tensions exist within subgroups constituting the LGBTQQ community, hindering opportunities for social advocacy, unified policy priorities, and community-level interventions. The heterogeneity of YSMW's experiences identifying with the LGBTQQ community and engaging within LGBTQQ spaces suggest that researchers should attend to the role of community dynamics when developing health disparities interventions and policies. Efforts to reconcile tensions within the LGBTQQ community may strengthen and advance policymakers’ ability to address sexuality-related disparities.

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.

Relationships between family structure, adolescent health status and substance use: Does ethnicity matter?


We examined the variations of adolescent health status and risk involvement– prevalence of mental health disabilities, chronic health conditions, substance use, and exposure to tobacco–between 6 family structures in a school-based sample of Latino, Somali, Hmong, and White students and whether ethnicity moderated these associations. Data were collected from the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey, comprising a sample of 29,345 from 8th, 9th, and 11th grades. Logistic regression investigated relationships between family structure and health variables. Adolescents in nuclear families reported better health outcomes in most models; odds of mental disabilities were 1.64 for single parent and 2.45 for other family structures. Significant effect modification was noted for all health outcomes; extended families were consistently protective for Hmong youth and offered some protection for Latino and Somali youth. Policies and programs that support parents and guardians are essential, and may be especially beneficial for ethnic minority youth in single-parent, grandparent-only, and other family structures.

Cultural stressors, identity development, and substance use attitudes among Hispanic immigrant adolescents


The goal of this investigation was to determine whether various cultural stressors (bicultural stress, perceived discrimination, and perceived negative context of reception [PNCR]) predict positive and negative substance use attitudes, directly and indirectly through personal identity, in a sample of immigrant Hispanic adolescents. Data on cultural stressors, substance use attitudes, and covariates were collected from 302 Hispanic immigrant adolescents (152 from Miami [61% Cuban] and 150 from Los Angeles [70% Mexican]) at 3 time points. PNCR was associated with identity confusion (β = .175, p = .033). Identity confusion significantly predicted higher positive attitudes toward alcohol and other drug (AOD; β = .216, p < .001) and cigarette use (β = .191, p = .015) and mediated the relationship between PNCR with unfavorable AOD attitudes (β = −.019, 95% confidence interval [CI] [− 0.052, − 0.001]) and favorable AOD attitudes (β = 0.038, 95% CI [0.003, 0.086]). Perceptions of a negative context of reception may hinder successful personal identity formation and impact health outcomes for immigrant youth.

In it together: Exploring how belonging to a youth activist group enhances well-being


Despite some evidence that being an activist, particularly during adolescence, can positively affect well-being, activism has been relatively neglected in both psychology and youth civic engagement research. This study aimed to address this gap by exploring how being an activist as a teenager can positively affect personal development and well-being. Seven focus groups comprising adolescent human rights activists were conducted in classrooms throughout the United Kingdom. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify four dominant themes–A place to go, Power in numbers, Skilling-up, and In it together—which are discussed in relation to existing literature. Because findings from this study suggest that there are a number of positive psychological benefits to being a youth activist, implications for psychology and youth civic engagement are also considered.

Measuring citizenship among U.S. veterans with chronic mental illness: A psychometric evaluation


Many U.S. military veterans experience difficulties reintegrating into civilian society after their military service, especially veterans with chronic mental illness. Few studies have examined the sense of citizenship among veterans and citizenship has rarely been examined in psychological studies. As part of a larger experimental trial, this study piloted the Yale Citizenship Scale on a sample of 199 U.S. veterans with chronic mental illness in Connecticut and Houston. A factor analysis found that the scale comprised 7 factors labeled as Personal Responsibilities, Government and Infrastructure, Caring by Others, Civil Rights, Legal Rights, Choices, and World Stewardship. Veterans with chronic mental illness reported moderate scores on each factor and the total scale. Each factor as well as the total scale showed good convergent validity with mental health and quality of life measures and discriminant validity from pain and physical health measures. The total scale and its factors demonstrated acceptable-to-excellent internal consistency and there was fair-to-excellent test-retest reliability on 6 of the 7 factors. Together, the findings demonstrated that the Yale Citizenship Scale can be adapted for use for U.S. veterans with chronic mental illness and that helping veterans achieve high levels of citizenship may an important social and clinical goal.

Neighborhood sexual violence moderates women's perceived safety in urban neighborhoods


Perceptions of neighborhood safety are positively associated with perceptions of neighborhood violence. However, research has yet to examine whether specific types of violence such as sexual violence moderate this relationship that are more salient for women. Using street-intercept interviews with 343 adults in 9 neighborhoods of a U.S. city with high rates of poverty, unemployment, and crime, we examine the relationship of perceived neighborhood violence to perceived safety in the context of gender while controlling for neighborhood assets that moderate perceptions of neighborhood safety and violence. We hypothesized that gender would moderate the relationship between perceived neighborhood violence and safety, and that women's perceptions of neighborhood safety would be significantly influenced by neighborhood sexual violence, but not other types of violence. Although women and men in these high crime, urban neighborhoods did not differ in their perceptions of neighborhood safety or violence, perceived sexual violence did significantly moderate safety by gender; women's perceptions of neighborhood sexual violence predicted perceived safety in their neighborhood. Importantly, gender did not moderate perceived safety for other types of violence. These results illustrate the importance of taking gender and perceived sexual violence into account to understand neighborhood safety in adults, particularly women.

Neighborhood and cultural stressors associated with delinquency in Latino adolescents


Research has demonstrated a link between community violence exposure (CVE) and delinquency in adolescence, but little is known about the role of cultural stressors in this relation. This study examined the moderating role of acculturation dissonance and ethnic/racial discrimination in the link between CVE and delinquency engagement in a sample of Latino adolescents. Participants for this study included 134 Latino adolescents (46% males, mean age of 16.14, standard deviation = 1.31) recruited from an urban charter high school located in a large Midwestern city. Findings from hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that higher levels of CVE and acculturation dissonance, as well as male gender, were associated with higher levels of delinquency engagement. A significant interaction was also found between CVE and ethnic/racial discrimination. Interaction probing showed that CVE was significantly associated with delinquency engagement at low but not high levels of ethnic/racial discrimination. Findings suggest that it is important to consider multiple types of cultural and neighborhood stressors when assessing and addressing the needs of Latino adolescents.

Validating the formative nature of psychological empowerment construct: Testing cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and relational empowerment components


The literature has recently raised the need to clarify the nature of psychological empowerment. There are theoretical and empirical evidences that this conceptualization may not be appropriate, and therefore other alternatives to the reflective measurement model should be considered. Consequently, serious problems may arise from the measurement model misspecification, undoubtedly compromising the development of empowerment theory and measurement. This empirical study constitutes an attempt to contribute to this debate, not only testing both reflective and formative models of psychological empowerment, to find the most appropriate modeling approach as a higher-order multidimensional construct, but also validating a measure that assesses cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and relational components in a Portuguese youth community-organizing context (N = 861). Confirmatory tetrad analyses results suggest a formative operationalization of psychological empowerment construct. These findings are supported by additional theoretical and empirical considerations. Additionally, the 46-item index for measure psychological empowerment reveals satisfactory psychometric properties.

Multiple senses of community and acculturation strategies among migrants


Based on the theoretical framework of multiple psychological sense of community (MPSOC) and acculturation models, the study explored the relationships between territorial (TPSOC) and ethnic PSOC (EPSOC) and the acculturation behaviors of 2 groups of immigrants who settled in Italy, namely, Albanians (N = 230) and Sri Lankans (N = 131). Based on survey data and quantitative analyses (general linear models), TPSOC and EPSOC were considered first separately and then combined, according to a bidimensional model of MPSOC that resulted in four combinations (dual membership, receiving society membership, ethnic membership, and no membership). The findings highlighted significant variations across groups. Among Albanian participants, both TPSOC and EPSOC were positively associated with integration and negatively with marginalization. Dual membership was positively associated with integration, prevailing ethnic membership with separation, and no membership with marginalization. Among Sri Lankan participants, EPSOC showed a positive association with separation. Dual membership was associated with marginalization, prevailing receiving society membership with assimilation, prevailing ethnic membership with separation, and no membership with integration.



A longitudinal examination of perceived racial/ethnic discrimination, public ethnic regard, and depressive symptoms in Latino youth


This longitudinal study examined the role of perceived racial/ethnic discrimination and public ethnic regard on depressive symptoms in an adolescent Latino sample (n = 141) living in an emerging immigrant community. Using a cross lagged model, this study found that Time 1 (T1) discrimination did not predict T2 depressive symptoms, nor did depressive symptoms predict T2 discrimination. However, public ethnic regard served as a significant moderator of the longitudinal association of discrimination. For youth who reported high public ethnic regard and high racial/ethnic discrimination at T1, they reported greater discrimination at T2 compared to those who reported low public ethnic regard. These findings suggest that an internalized positive perception of the public's view of one's ethnic group is a potential vulnerability factor that needs to be better understood. These findings imply the need for additional research on the unique role of public ethnic regard in emerging immigrant communities.

Impact of trauma exposure and acculturative stress on internalizing symptoms for recently arrived migrant-origin youth: Results from a community-based partnership


Migrant youth face cultural challenges upon initial adjustment into the United States. Although there is considerable empirical evidence that trauma impacts interpersonal relations, there is a dearth of research examining the association between adverse events and the initial social and cultural exchange experience, and whether this is associated with psychological adjustment. This study examined self-report data for 87 newly arrived migrant-origin students in Grades 5–10 from Latin American, Caribbean, Asian, and African backgrounds attending a public alternative school in the Southeastern United States. Data were collected as part of a community-based partnership. The relation between cumulative trauma exposure and internalizing symptoms was fully mediated by acculturative stress (p < .05), suggesting prior trauma exposure negatively affected these students’ capacity to navigate a new cultural milieu, which in turn is directly associated with internalizing symptoms. Behavioral health care practitioners can use screening procedures early in the academic year to detect which migrant students may be experiencing difficult cultural transitions.

Children's experiences and perceptions of street culture, parental supervision, and parental mediation in an urban neighborhood


Local street cultures may appear more or less “extreme,” depending on several contextual factors. Using focus groups, the current study aimed to explore what children, aged 7 to 12 years, think of the assumption that parents play an important role on the street to increase safety in the public domain. Involvement of parents can either be helpful or contribute to escalation of the conflict. Children's biggest concern was that parents are not able to be neutral or that children did not know the parent who intervened. They can imagine intervening being helpful when the intervening parents are known and trusted. We expect that when the public environment is safe and social cohesion is strong, the amount of conflicts will reduce and the help of parents will be generally accepted. We expect that increasing public familiarity and strengthening social control in disadvantaged neighborhoods can further limit the negative influences of street culture.

Resident characteristics and neighborhood environments on health-related quality of life and stress


Relatively little research has attempted to disentangle the individual and neighborhood conditions underlying health disparities. To address this, survey data were collected from 1,107 residents living in one of the 114 census tracts. Results from a multilevel structural equation model found an individual's perceptions of the social and built environment were significantly associated with their current physical health, mental health, and perceived stress. Associations between household income and poor physical health were more pronounced for participants who lived in low-income neighborhoods compared to participants who lived in high-income neighborhoods. Additionally, Black residents reported significantly better mental health than White residents when they lived in high-income neighborhoods, while Black residents who lived in low-income neighborhoods reported significantly more stress than White residents in low-income neighborhoods. Results of this study advance scientific understanding of social determinants of health and may aid in the development of programs and policies.

Understanding the influence of resilience for people with a lived experience of mental illness: A self-determination theory perspective


Behaviors associated with resilience can be seen as tantamount to coping with stress and vulnerability. This is important for people who live with mental illness. This study aimed to determine whether key basic psychological needs influence resilience among people with a lived experience of mental illness. A total of 159 consumers with a lived experience of mental illness completed self-report surveys measuring resilience and the basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) espoused in self-determination theory. A 2-step analysis was conducted, including Pearson product correlations and stepwise multiple regression. Higher levels of relatedness significantly predicted resilience. Competence and autonomy did not have a significant influence on resilience. Reconnecting or establishing social relationships within ones community is important for people living with mental illness. The link between resilience and relatedness ought to be considered in treatment plans.

A longitudinal investigation of the psychological health of United States Air Force base communities


The longitudinal course of the psychological health (PH) of United States Air Force (USAF) base communities in relation to risk and demographic factors was studied over a 5-year period. PH (clinically significant hazardous drinking, prescription drug misuse, depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, intimate partner violence [IPV] and child abuse) and risk (personal and family adjustment, workplace adjustment, broader community adjustment) and demographic factors (age and gender distribution) were operationalized at the aggregate level for bases (N = 77) as measured in three large scale surveys of USAF active duty members. Bases whose members collectively exhibited greater levels of risk collectively experienced greater initial problems with alcohol and drug use, depression, suicidality, and physical IPV. Hazardous drinking more quickly increased at bases whose members were younger and more male, and at those with poorer initial aggregate personal adjustment and workplace adjustment. The challenges of studying the community-level course of PH are highlighted.

Interdependent self-construal matters in the community context: Relationships of self-construal with community identity and participation


Two studies investigate the relationship between self-construal (SC), community identity, and community participation among Chinese urban residents. Study 1 (n = 261) measured SC, community identity, and community participation behavior. Using cluster analysis, 4 distinct subgroups emerged: those with (a) independent SC, (b) interdependent SC, (c) dual SC, and (d) marginal SC. Results indicated that individuals in the interdependent SC subgroup reported higher community identity, particularly emotional identity, and more participation behavior than those in the independent and dual SC subgroups. Study 2 (n = 53) experimentally activated SC before measuring community identity and community participation intention. Results indicated that individuals primed with interdependent SC reported greater community identity, particularly emotional identity, and higher participation intention than those primed with independent SC. Findings are discussed in terms of theoretical and practical implications.

A quasi-experimental evaluation of rent assistance for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness


This study investigated the effectiveness of the addition of rent assistance to existing housing and support services in the Waterloo region of Ontario for people experiencing chronic homelessness. A nonequivalent comparison group design was used to compare the outcomes between (a) participants selected to receive rent assistance plus support services (n = 26) and (b) participants receiving support services only (n = 25). Participants were interviewed at baseline and 6 months later. Participants in the rent assistance condition showed significantly greater improvements over time relative to the comparison group in housing stability and quality of life. They also demonstrated significantly better perceived housing quality, and there were trends of greater improvement in community functioning, social support, and food security. The findings demonstrate that rent assistance is associated with superior program outcomes for people experiencing chronic homelessness and is a necessary component of supported housing models, such as Housing First.

Racial disparities in perceived social support and social service use: Associations with maternal depression and head start participation


Using the Head Start Impact Study data, this study examined racial disparities in maternal perceptions of social support and social service receipt, and their associations with depression. Associations between Head Start participation and these variables were also studied. A total of 3,269 mothers were included (n = 971 Black, 1,086 Hispanic, and 1,212 White). Compared to White mothers, Hispanic mothers indicated perceiving less assistance from social supports. Black and Hispanic mothers were less likely to use social services and reported lower levels of depression than White mothers. Head Start mothers perceived more helpfulness from social supports than non-Head Start mothers. Head Start, however, was not associated with social service use or maternal depression. Results suggest Head Start participation may be related to greater ability to reap benefits from relationships with friends and family among low-income mothers.