American Journal of Community Psychology

Published by Wiley

Online ISSN: 1573-2770


Print ISSN: 0091-0562


It Takes a Village: The Effects of 10th Grade College-Going Expectations of Students, Parents, and Teachers Four Years Later
  • Article

April 2013


559 Reads


Adolescents are surrounded by people who have expectations about their college-going potential. Yet, few studies have examined the link between these multiple sources of college-going expectations and the actual status of students in postsecondary education years later. The study draws on data collected in the 2002-2006 Educational Longitudinal Study and employs an underutilized statistical technique (cross-classified multilevel modeling) to account for teacher reports on overlapping groups of students (typical of high school research). Results showed that positive expectations of students, parents, English, and mathematics teachers in the 10th grade each uniquely predicted postsecondary status 4 years later. As a group, the four sources of expectations explained greater variance in postsecondary education than student characteristics such as socioeconomic status and academic performance. This suggests positive expectations are additive and promotive for students regardless of their risk status. Teacher expectations were also found to be protective for low income students. Implications for future expectancy research and equity-focused interventions are discussed.

New York City young adults' psychological reactions to 9/11: Findings from the Reach for Health longitudinal study

April 2007


59 Reads

This research examines psychological distress among 955 economically disadvantaged New York City residents surveyed during high school and again after the September 11th terrorist attacks (9/11), when they were young adults. As part of the longitudinal Reach for Health study, young adult surveys were conducted from 6-19 months post-9/11 (average 8 months), providing opportunity to assess types of exposures and psychological distress, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, hopelessness, and anger. Regressions of psychological distress on 9/11 exposure were performed, controlling for high school distress, prior exposure to violence victimization, and socio-demographic characteristics. Exposure to 9/11 was positively associated with anger, hopelessness, and PTSD symptoms and a measure of global distress. The relationship was greater among women for PTSD symptoms. Although those who reported high school distress also reported more distress in young adulthood, prior psychological distress did not moderate the relationship between exposure and psychological outcomes. Greater exposure is related to distress among those who, during high school, reported lower distress, as well as among those who reported prior greater distress.

Charting uncharted ter-rain: A behavioral observation system for mutual help groups. American Journal of Community Psychology, 119, 715-737

November 1991


23 Reads

Linda J. Roberts






Thomas M. Reischl
Describes the development of a behavioral observation system for mutual help meetings and presents evidence supporting its reliability, validity, and utility. The MHOS-BIC (Mutual Help Observation System-Behavioral Interaction Codes) was used by 10 observers to record the sequential flow of group interaction in 527 meetings. Psychometric analyses indicate that the system performed consistently with measurement objectives. Mean kappas for each of the 12 coding categories ranged from .62 to .87; the system demonstrated sensitivity to setting and time differences; and a predictable pattern of correlations was found among BIC categories and conceptually related participant and observer ratings. Studies using the BIC to address substantive questions about mutual help are reviewed, providing further evidence for its validity and utility. An empirical description of mutual help is presented using BIC data, and the promises and limitations of the system are discussed.

The Evaluation of Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003 to Reduce Childhood Obesity: Conceptualization, Design, and Special Challenges

June 2012


58 Reads

This article describes the evaluation of the Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003, a comprehensive legislative proposal to address the growing epidemic of childhood obesity through changes in the school environment. In addition, the article discusses specific components of the evaluation that may be applicable to other childhood obesity policy evaluation efforts. The conceptual framework for the evaluation, research questions, and evaluation design are described, along with data collection methods and analysis strategies. A mixed methods approach, including both quantitative (surveys, telephone interviews) and qualitative (key informant interviews, records reviews) approaches, was utilized to collect data from a range of informant groups including parents, adolescents, school principals, school district superintendents, and other stakeholders. Challenges encountered with the evaluation are discussed, as are strategies to overcome those challenges. Now in its 9th year, this evaluation has documented substantial changes to school policies and environments but fewer changes to student and family behaviors. The evaluation may inform the methods of other evaluations of childhood obesity prevention policies, as well as inform policymakers about how quickly they might expect implementation of such policies in their own states and localities and anticipate both positive and adverse outcomes.

Measurement of adolescents’ life events: The Junior High Life Experience Survey. American Journal of Community Psychology, 13, 69-85

March 1985


140 Reads

The first of these two studies examined the relationship between adolescents' scores on a social desirability questionnaire and scores of negative, positive, and total life events. Only number of positive events was significantly related to social desirability. The second study compared various scoring strategies with respect to their intercorrelation and their ability to predict adolescents' maladjustment (depression, anxiety, and number of missed school days). The results demonstrated that (a) total number of events and readjustment-weighted life change scores were equally predictive of the maladjustment criteria; (b) negative events, but not positive events, however scored, were significantly related to the maladjustment criteria; (c) indices based on psychologist-judges' ratings of event desirability were not more predictive of the maladjustment criteria than were indices based on the adolescents' self-reports; and (d) uncontrollable negative events and controllable negative events were equally predictive of the maladjustment criteria.

Fig. 1 Map of the HBSC countries (shaded) and of the HBSC countries involved in the present study (dark)  
Table 1 Number of students, mean age and gender ratio in each country 
Table 2 Place attachment, social capital and perceived safety non-standardized means and standard deviations for boys and girls in each country with Bonf
Table 4 continued 
Table 4 Linear regressions and Sobel test of social capital mediating the relationship between place attachment and perceived safety for each country (controlled by gender)
Adolescent Place Attachment, Social Capital, and Perceived Safety: A Comparison of 13 Countries
  • Article
  • Full-text available

July 2009


562 Reads

In adolescence, children become increasingly independent and autonomous, and spend more time in neighborhood settings away from home. During mid-to-late adolescence, youth often become more critical about the place they live. Their attachment to home and even community may decrease as they explore and develop new attachments to other specific places. The aim of this study is to understand how 15-year-old students from 13 countries perceive their local neighborhood area (place attachment, social capital and safety), and how these different community cognitions are interrelated. We hypothesize that their place attachment predicts safety, and that the relationship is mediated in part by social capital. Result show that, despite cross-cultural differences in neighborhood perceptions, the proposed theoretical model fits robustly across all 13 countries.

Occupational stress, social support, and burnout among correctional officers. American Journal of Community Psychology,14, 177-193

May 1986


106 Reads

Three alternative models of the role of workplace social support in ameliorating the effect of occupational stress on burnout symptoms were tested. Correctional officers (N = 166) completed a variety of questionnaire measures of job stress, the Inventory of Socially Supportive Behaviors, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Analyses showed no support for either the direct or buffering models of social support. Rather, the data were consistent with the indirect model of social support in the workplace. Among the job stress indices, role ambiguity, work load, and direct contact with inmates were found to be independent predictors of burnout symptomatology. The findings suggest a preventive rather than remedial effect of workplace social support in reducing occupational stress and burnout.

The enhancement of psychological wellness: Challenges and opportunities. American Journal of Community Psychology, 22, 149-179

May 1994


262 Reads

Developed the concept of psychological wellness and made the case that proportionally more resources should be directed to the pursuit of this goal. Five pathways to wellness are considered, implicating aspects of individual development and the impact of contexts, settings, and policies. The five pathways are: forming wholesome early attachments; acquiring age- and ability-appropriate competencies; engineering settings that promote adaptive outcomes; fostering empowerment; and acquiring skills needed to cope effectively with life stressors. Although these noncompeting pathways have differential salience at different ages and for different groups and life conditions, each is an essential element in any comprehensive social plan to advance wellness. Examples of effective programs are cited in all five areas, including recent comprehensive, long-term programs embodying multiple pathways to wellness.

Table 1 Sample sizes, means, standard deviations, ranges, and inter-correlations of all measures 
Table 2 Covariate adjusted means, standard deviations, Z test, and effect sizes for narrative dimensions by Better Beginnings project sites and comparison sites 
Table 3 Simultaneous regression predicting turning point dimensions from self-esteem and community involvement 
Exploring Outcomes through Narrative: The Long-term Impacts of Better Beginnings, Better Futures on the Turning Point Stories of Youth at Ages 18-19

July 2011


154 Reads

This study examined the long-term effects of the Better Beginnings, Better Futures project, a community-based early childhood development program, on 18-19 year-old youths' narratives about turning points in their lives. The sample consisted of youth who participated in Better Beginnings from ages 4-8 (n = 62) and youth from a comparison community who did not participate in Better Beginnings (n = 34). Controlling for covariates, significant differences favoring youth from the Better Beginnings sites were found on several dimensions of the turning point stories: ending resolution, personal growth, meaning-making, coherence, and affect transformation. Effect sizes ranged from .45 to .76 for these outcome dimensions, indicating moderate to large effects. Also, turning point story dimensions were found to be significantly correlated with two standardized measures of well-being: youths' self-esteem and community involvement. Youths' self-esteem was directly related to story ending resolution, personal growth, and meaning making, and youths' community involvement was directly related to story specificity, meaning making, and coherence. Family functioning was also examined in relation to these narrative dimensions but was not found to be significantly related to them. The findings suggest the utility of a narrative approach for the evaluation of the long-term outcomes of early childhood development programs.

Empowering people with physical disabilities through advocacy skills training.American Journal of Community Psychology, 18, 281-296

May 1990


78 Reads

Members of an advocacy organization for people with physical disabilities were trained to identify and report issues at group meetings. In addition, two consecutive chairpersons were trained to conduct action-oriented meetings. Measures of group members' activities outside meetings and related outcomes on identified issues were also collected. Results indicated increases in the number of disability-related issues reported by trained members and consistent improvements in chairperson performance following training. Retrospective interviews and permanent records showed that advocacy activities, as well as the outcomes of members' actions, increased after training. These findings and their implications for the empowerment of people with disabilities are discussed.

Samaniego RY, Gonzales NA: Multiple mediators of the effects of acculturation status on delinquency for Mexican American adolescents. Am J Community Psychol 1999;27:189-210

May 1999


35 Reads

Research has shown that more acculturated Latino adolescents are at increased risk for delinquent behavior relative to their less acculturated counterparts. The present study examined the mediating effects of seven variables hypothesized to account for the empirical link between acculturation status and delinquent activity for a sample of Mexican American adolescents. Mediational analyses provided support for four of the putative mediators which included family conflict, maternal monitoring, inconsistent discipline, and negative peer hassles. Examined together, these variables totally mediated the effect of acculturation status on delinquent behavior. In addition, family conflict and maternal monitoring uniquely accounted for a significant proportion of the mediated variance above that explained by the other variables in the model. Adolescent's cultural identity, perceived discrimination, and maternal acceptance were not supported as mediators.

Effect of first-grade classroom on shy behavior, aggressive behavior, and concentration problems. American Journal of Community Psychology, 19, 585-602

September 1991


194 Reads

Investigates the effect of the first-grade classroom environment on the shy behavior, aggressive behavior, and concentration problems of 609 children in 19 East Baltimore public schools. First-grade classroom environment was assessed in terms of dominant pattern of classroom achievement and behavior. Structured teacher ratings assessed child shy behavior, aggressive behavior, and concentration problems at the end of first grade. Children in low-achieving classroom environments had significantly higher teacher ratings of shy behavior and aggressive behavior than children in mixed-achieving or high-achieving environments, even after controlling for potentially confounding child characteristics and classroom behavior environment effects. Analyses controlling for child characteristics and classroom achievement environment effects indicated that children in poor-behaving classroom environments also had significantly higher teacher ratings of shy behavior than children who were not in poor-behaving environments. Subgroup analyses indicated that repeaters in mixed-achieving environments had significantly higher levels of shy behavior compared with nonrepeaters, and repeaters in poor-behaving environments had significantly higher levels of aggressive behavior compared with nonrepeaters. Implications for prevention research are discussed.

A brief history of primary prevention in the twentieth century: 1908 to 1980

March 1983


16 Reads

While primary prevention is a much talked about and debated topic in contemporary psychology, it has a considerable history. This paper critically traces primary prevention, philosophy and practice, in the 20th century. Beginning with the mental hygiene movement (1908-1960), the paper progresses to examine the child guidance movement (1920-1955), the eugenics movement (1860-1955), the initial era of federal involvement (1930s, 1940s) as well as significant research, events, and legislation in the decades between 1950 and 1980. The paper concludes with a synopsis of the major themes revealed by the review and suggestions for future efforts in prevention.

The 1979 Division 27 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Community Psychology and Community Mental Health: Emory L. Cowen.

July 1980


16 Reads

The metaphor of the paper''s title offers a framework for a brief summary. Effective wooing of primary prevention requires that we take seriously, and adhere to, its clear, sensible defining guidelines; systematize, and further develop, its generative base; use that base to guide the formulation of new primary prevention programs; further develop frameworks to promote informed choices of programs derecions from among many attractive possibilities; and be more hard-nosed as program evaluators. That type of courtship should improve our love life with — and perhaps even, science of — primary prevention in mental health.

Gender, Economic Context, Perceptions of Safety, and Quality of Life: A Case Study of Lowell, Massachusetts (U.S.A.), 1982–96

November 2002


207 Reads

From 1982 through 1996, 840 structured interviews about urban quality of life (QOL) were conducted with residents of Lowell, Massachusetts, by graduate students in a seminar about the city. Perceptions of safety and general QOL were analyzed by social status (gender) and social contexts (economic and historic) using multivariate and univariate ANOVAS. Main effects were obtained for gender, area income, and time. Subsequent analyses revealed that men felt safer than did women at night in neighborhoods and downtown, and that residents of lower income areas perceived both neighborhood QOL and safety more negatively than residents of higher income areas did. Small effects were found for downtown safety by area income in the opposite direction. Differences over time for downtown safety and city QOL (but not for neighborhood) suggest that the early and mid-1980s were viewed somewhat more favorably than the 1990s, with some improvement in the most recent period. Results suggest that economic context and time were related to perceived safety and QOL, though in different ways, whereas gender was related to perceived safety but not to QOL. Respondents' comments and community psychology principles are used to elaborate on and suggest interpretations for quantitative results.

Community psychology into the 1990s: Capitalizing opportunity and promoting innovation

March 1990


18 Reads

Political and social changes during the last decade and their implications for community psychology research and practice are discussed. Shifting responsibility for social problems, economic considerations, and levels of citizen concern and involvement in community problem solution are considered stimuli for new opportunities for innovation and change. The discipline is challenged to renew efforts in the promotion of innovation and to develop and disseminate interventions that result in modification in the role relationships characterizing the ecology of social problems.

Table 2 Diagnostic status of homeless adults in two samples 
Changes in the Composition of the Homeless Population: 1992-2002

September 2010


515 Reads

This study examines changes in the characteristics of the homeless population before and after a period of extended economic expansion (1992-2002). Data from other sources suggest that, during this 10-year period, the size of the overall population of homeless persons may have declined slightly, though not significantly, both in the city studied and nationally. In-depth surveys of representative samples of homeless adults (N = 249 in 1992-94; N = 220 in 2000-2002) revealed significant differences in the composition of the homeless population across the time period, consistent with queuing theory. Persons experiencing homelessness after the expansion appeared to be a more "chronic," less readily employable population than those interviewed at the start of the expansion: Those interviewed after were older, spent more time living on the streets, had more health symptoms, were more likely to have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and had more restricted social networks and social support. Policy, research, and service provision implications of the findings are discussed.

Homelessness in the United States: Assessing Changes in Prevalence and Public Opinion, 1993–2001

April 2006


165 Reads

A national survey was administered in 1993-1994 (N = 360) and repeated in 2001 (N = 435) to assess the prevalence of homelessness as well as attitudes, opinions and knowledge regarding homelessness. No significant changes in prevalence were found, despite a strong US economy during most of the 7-8 year period. Respondents in 2001 had less stereotyped views of homeless people and were more supportive of services, but came to see homelessness as a less serious problem that was less often due to economic factors. This "mixed" set of findings may reflect both beliefs on the benefits of a good economy and an increased awareness of the complexity of homelessness. Across the surveys, younger, female, liberal, and less wealthy respondents demonstrated more sympathetic attitudes towards homeless people.

Natural Disaster and Depression: A Prospective Investigation of Reactions to the 1993 Midwest Floods

September 2000


369 Reads

A statewide sample of 1735 Iowa residents, approximately half of whom were victims of the 1993 Midwest Floods, participated in interviews 1 year prior to, and 30 to 90 days after, the disaster. Employing a rigorous methodology including both control-group comparisons and predisaster assessments, we performed a systematic evaluation of the disaster's impact. Overall, the disaster led to true but small rises in depressive symptoms and diagnoses 60-90 days postflood. The disaster-psychopathology effect was not moderated by predisaster depressive symptoms or diagnostically defined depression; rather, predisaster symptoms and diagnoses uniquely contributed to increases in postdisaster distress. However, increases in symptoms as a function of flood impact were slightly greater among respondents with the lowest incomes and among residents living in small rural communities, as opposed to on farms or in cities. Implications for individual- and community-level disaster response are discussed.

ChaSing Rainbow Notions: Enacting Community Psychology in the Classroom and Beyond in Post-1994 South Africa

April 2004


210 Reads

This paper discusses tensions and contradictions experienced by a group of psychologists in post-1994 South Africa as we struggled to develop an MA program in community psychology. Situating our work within the history of the subdiscipline and the historical context confronting South Africans in the "wake of apartheid," we explore models of community psychology that informed praxis under apartheid and contemporary challenges confronting a country in transition. We discuss three tensions that inform the ongoing program development. These include (1) the construction and deconstruction of Western and indigenous knowledge systems; (2) assessment and intervention at multiple levels and from differing value perspectives; and (3) paradoxes experienced by a team of university-educated, primarily White academic staff committed to challenging oppression. We conclude our discussion by suggesting that, within these shifting sands of economic, political, cultural, and institutional change community psychology must, of necessity, resist rigid self-definition and seek to position itself as a "work-in-progress." We suggest that this seemingly anomalous self-description may be suggestive for other community psychologists-in-the-making facing similar challenges within the majority world.

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