Date Approved

2015

Date Posted

4-30-2015

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Dean Lauterbach

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephen Jefferson

Abstract

Exposure to community violence is positively correlated with aggression towards other people (Allwood & Bell, 2008). Researchers in this area have classified aggression into two broad categories, proactive and reactive aggression. Proactive aggression refers to aggression that is used as an instrument to achieve a goal, whereas reactive aggression refers to aggression that is used as a response to a real or perceived treat (Chaux, Arboleda, & Rincon, 2012). Exposure to community violence impacts both reactive and proactive aggression, but mechanisms explaining this relationship are still unclear. One potential mediator of this relationship is religiosity. Previous research suggests that individuals turn to religion as a coping mechanism when encountering stressful situations, but the efficacy of this coping mechanism has generated mixed results (Ano & Vasconcelles, 2005). Considering that exposure to violence and aggressive behavior lead to stress, it is plausible that religiosity is a mediator of this relationship. One hundred twenty three currently enrolled Eastern Michigan University undergraduate students completed self-report measures assessing exposure to community violence, religiosity and both reactive and proactive aggression. It was hypothesized that higher levels of exposure to violence are positively correlated with both types of aggression and religious coping would moderate that relationship. This hypothesis was not supported. However, there was a direct effect between experiences with 'safety' (the mirror image of violence exposure) and lower levels of proactive aggression.

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