Thinking about the future as a way to succeed in the present: a longitudinal study of future orientation and violent behaviors among African American youth

Am J Community Psychol. 2011 Dec;48(3-4):238-46. doi: 10.1007/s10464-010-9383-0.


Previous research has linked higher levels of hopelessness about one's future to violent behavior during adolescence; however, little is known about this relationship over time for adolescents. Using growth curve modeling, we tested the association between future orientation and violent behavior across the high school years of adolescence in a sample of African American youth (n = 681). Variation based on demographic characteristics (i.e., sex, SES, previous violence) was explored. At baseline, differences in violent behavior varied by demographic characteristics. Overall, violent behavior decreased with age. Higher levels of future orientation were associated with greater decreases in violent behavior over time. Demographic characteristics were not associated with change in violent behavior overtime. Our findings suggest that future orientation can act as a promotive factor for at risk African American youth. Interventions that help support the development of future goals and aspirations could play a vital role in violence prevention efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • United States
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Violence / psychology