Environmental influences on fighting versus nonviolent behavior in peer situations: a qualitative study with urban African American adolescents

Am J Community Psychol. 2010 Sep;46(1-2):19-35. doi: 10.1007/s10464-010-9331-z.


This qualitative study explored environmental factors that influence adolescents' responses to problem situations involving peers. Interviews were conducted with 106 middle school students (97% African American) from an urban school system. Participants were asked to describe factors that would make it easier and those that would make it more difficult for adolescents to make specific responses to problem situations. Two types of responses were presented: nonviolent responses identified as effective in a previous study, and fighting responses. Qualitative analysis identified 24 themes representing family, peer, school, and neighborhood and broader social factors that were related to both nonviolent behavior and fighting. The identification of environmental influences on fighting and nonviolent responses has important implications for efforts to reduce aggression and promote effective nonviolent responses to problem situations encountered by adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology
  • Peer Group*
  • Schools
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Environment*
  • Urban Population
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Virginia