Negative Consequences Associated With Witnessing Severe Violent Events: The Role of Control-Related Beliefs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Control-related beliefs are defined as beliefs in one's ability to cause an effect in one's environment. With recent increases in violence in some cities, understanding the impact of exposure to violence on these beliefs is important. The present study examined whether witnessing severe community violence during early adolescence was associated with trajectories of control-related beliefs, and whether these trajectories were associated with mental and behavioral health outcomes in early adulthood. Method: Using data from a longitudinal preventive intervention study, we modeled trajectories of control-related beliefs using growth mixture modeling from 9th through 12th grade. The violence exposure of interest was witnessing severe community violence, defined as seeing someone being shot, stabbed, or killed. Early adulthood outcomes examined were post high school suicide attempt; having a criminal justice record; and having a diagnosis of substance use disorder, major depressive disorder, or antisocial personality disorder. Results: The latent growth mixture model identified three trajectories of control-related beliefs: a low stable trajectory, a high increasing trajectory, and a moderate stable trajectory. Participants who were exposed to severe violent events were significantly more likely to be in the low trajectory. Further, those in the low trajectory were significantly more likely to experience several negative outcomes. Conclusion: Results suggest that witnessing severe forms of community violence impacts control-related belief trajectories and that trajectories characterized by low feelings of control are associated with adverse outcomes in early adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-744
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Control-related beliefs
  • Violence exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Negative Consequences Associated With Witnessing Severe Violent Events: The Role of Control-Related Beliefs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this