AbstractsPsychology

Abstract

Prosocial behavior during adolescence is consistently associated with a myriad of positive outcomes including fewer risk-taking behaviors and greater positive affect. Although limited, there is some literature that suggests prosocial behavior is an important protective factor in attenuating the effects of stressful life events such as exposure to community violence. Unfortunately work examining prosocial behaviors in African American adolescents is very sparse. The present study examined the moderating role of altruism, a specific form of prosocial behavior, on relationships between exposure to violence and negative mental health outcomes in a sample of 207 African American adolescents (136 females, 71 males). Participant’s age ranged from 13 to 18 (M = 15.78, SD = 1.19). Results indicated that boys and girls engaged in similar levels of altruistic behaviors, but these behaviors were especially important in moderating the impact 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.