The Association Between Violence Exposure and Aggression and Anxiety: The Role of Peer Relationships in Adaptation for Middle School Students

Anna Ward Goodearl, Suzanne Salzinger, Margaret Rosario

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


This study examined how peer relationships contribute to young adolescents' adaptation in the face of exposure to community and family violence. It tested hypotheses about peers' role in processes relating exposure to behavioral and psychological outcomes, specifically, aggression and anxiety. Data were collected from 667 middle school students, followed from sixth grade to eighth grade, in a high crime urban school district, and from their parents and classmates. Friends' antisocial behavior mediated the relationship between violence exposure and later aggressive behavior. A bias toward hostile attribution contributed to, but did not alone explain, the relationship. Friends' prosocial behavior failed to moderate the association between exposure and later aggressive behavior. Social acceptance moderated the relationship between exposure and later anxiety when exposure was low, but not when it was high. Peer intimacy/closeness, while demonstrating a direct, inverse effect on anxiety, failed to moderate the association between violence exposure and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-338
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014



  • aggression
  • anxiety
  • coping
  • inner-city / urban
  • peer relationships
  • violence / violent behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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