Date of Conferral







Maxwell Rainforth


Violent behaviors among adolescents serve as a disruption to many aspects of society. If these behaviors remain uncorrected, there is increased potential for serious self-harm, harm to others, incarceration, and escalation of violence into homicide or suicide. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between youth exposure to community violence and adolescents' social information processing underlying aggressive responses, as well as the potential role of gender in moderating this relationship. A sample of 160 male and female 18-year-olds from the Midwestern United States completed an online survey, which included the Things I Have Seen and Heard (TISH) Scale to assess exposure to community violence and a measure of aggressive responding to ambiguous social situations, based on 4 vignettes devised by Crick and Dodge. The data were analyzed using moderated multiple regression analysis and correlational analysis. Results indicated that a relationship between community violence exposure and adolescents' social information processing of aggressive responses is moderated by gender; there was a significant correlation between TISH scores and the total score from the vignettes among females but not among males. The study results suggest that school-based interventions and violence prevention programs should target the ways in which adolescent girls and young women make decisions when placed in ambiguous or potentially threatening situations, with reference to the level of community violence to which they have been exposed. Hence, this study has implications for positive social change to break the cycle of community violence, based upon enhancing the understanding of mechanisms that relate previous exposure to violence and aggressive responding among youth.