Behav. Sci.2015, 5(2), 324-340; doi:10.3390/bs5020324 - published 10 June 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Modifying the school food environment is on the national agenda as one strategy to improve the nutritional quality of children’s diets. Because few environmental-level interventions have been rigorously evaluated, the evidence base to inform programs and policies is limited. Of concern is the impact that changes to cafeteria offerings will have on participation in school meal programs. This study evaluates school lunch participation in the setting of a year-long middle school cafeteria intervention by examining the association between body mass index (BMI), sociodemographics, and the purchases of school lunch meals. IMOVE meals were healthier choices that met stringent nutritional criteria and were offered alongside standard lunch meals. Students who were overweight had a significantly higher purchase rate for both types of meals compared to those with a healthy BMI. Non-white race, younger age, being male, and low-income status were also significantly associated with participation in school lunch. Results indicate that nutritionally vulnerable students participate in school lunch and are equally likely to buy healthy alternatives or standard meals. This behavioral observation has important implications for school foodservice programs and policies. These results are timely given recent federal legislation to improve the school food environment to influence students’ food choice behaviors.
Behav. Sci.2015, 5(2), 305-323; doi:10.3390/bs5020305 - published 9 June 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Assortative mating is an important issue in explaining antisocial, aggressive behavior. It is yet unclear, whether the similarity paradigm fully explains frequent displays of aggression in adolescents’ romantic relationships. In a sample of 194 romantic partner dyads, differences between female and male partners’ reports of aggression (psychological and physical) and different measures of relationship functioning (e.g., jealousy, conflicts, and the affiliative and romantic quality of the relationship) were assessed. A hierarchical cluster analysis identified five distinct subgroups of dyads based on male and female reports of psychological and physical aggression: nonaggressive couples, couples with higher perceived aggressiveness (both physical and psychological) by females, couples with higher aggressiveness perceived by males and mutually aggressive couples. A substantial number of non-aggressive dyads emerged. Of note was the high number of females showing one-sided aggression, which was, however, not countered by their partner. The mutually aggressive couples showed the least adaptive relationship functioning, with a lack of supportive, trusting relationship qualities, high conflict rates and high jealousy. The discussion focuses on the different functions of aggression in these early romantic relations, and the aggravating impact of mutual aggression on relationship functioning and its potential antisocial outcomes.
Behav. Sci.2015, 5(2), 264-304; doi:10.3390/bs5020264 - published 1 June 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper presents a biopsychosocial model of self-regulation, executive functions, and personal growth that we have applied to Goal-Directed Resilience in Training (GRIT) interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obesity, and chronic pain. Implications of the training for the prevention of maladaptation, including psychological distress and health declines, and for promoting healthy development are addressed. Existing models of attention, cognition, and physiology were sourced in combination with qualitative study findings in developing this resilience skills intervention. We used qualitative methods to uncover life skills that are most salient in cases of extreme adversity, finding that goal-directed actions that reflected an individual’s values and common humanity with others created a context-independent domain that could compensate for the effects of adversity. The efficacy of the resilience skills intervention for promoting positive emotion, enhancing neurocognitive capacities, and reducing symptoms was investigated in a randomized controlled trial with a veteran population diagnosed with PTSD. The intervention had low attrition (8%) and demonstrated improvement on symptom and wellbeing outcomes, indicating that the intervention may be efficacious for PTSD and that it taps into those mechanisms which the intervention was designed to address. Feasibility studies for groups with comorbid diagnoses, such as chronic pain and PTSD, also showed positive results, leading to the application of the GRIT intervention to other evocative contexts such as obesity and chronic pain.
Behav. Sci.2015, 5(2), 247-263; doi:10.3390/bs5020247 - published 28 May 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study was designed to ascertain teachers’ perceptions of bullying of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth. In a sample of 200 educators (61.0% female; 96.5% White) from a county in southwestern Pennsylvania, there was a significant positive relationship between the teachers’ perceptions of the supportiveness of school staff towards students regardless of sexual orientation and those teachers’ reports of the frequency of bullying victimization experienced by LGBTQ students. Teachers’ perceptions of a higher level of staff and student support was associated with higher reported frequencies of students’ use of derogatory language about LGBTQ individuals and various types of bullying of LGBTQ students. Teachers with a lesbian, gay, or bisexual orientation were found to rate the school staff and students as significantly less supportive of students regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression in comparison to heterosexual teachers. Finally, teachers who either were unaware of or believed that their school lacked an anti-bullying policy reported significantly higher rates of physical bullying victimization of LGBTQ students when compared to the rates observed by teachers who reported knowledge of their schools’ anti-bullying policies.
Behav. Sci.2015, 5(2), 230-246; doi:10.3390/bs5020230 - published 22 May 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Unintended pregnancy (UP) is a significant public health problem. The consistent use of effective contraception is the primary method to prevent UP. We examined the role of childhood sexual and physical violence and current interpersonal violence on the risk of unintended pregnancy among young, urban, sexually active women. In particular, we were interested in examining the role of childhood violence and interpersonal violence while recognizing the psychological correlates of experiencing violence (i.e., high depressive symptoms and low self-esteem) and consistent use of contraception. For this assessment, 315 sexually active women living in Philadelphia PA were recruited from family planning clinics in 2013. A self-administered, computer-assisted interview was used to collect data on method of contraception use in the past month, consistency of use, experiences with violence, levels of depressive symptoms, self-esteem and sexual self-efficacy, substance use and health services utilization. Fifty percent of young sexually active women reported inconsistent or no contraception use in the past month. Inconsistent users were significantly more likely to report at least one prior episode of childhood sexual violence and were significantly less likely to have received a prescription for contraception from a health care provider. Inconsistent contraception users also reported significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms and significantly lower levels of self-esteem. The relation between childhood sexual violence and UP remained unchanged in the multivariate models adjusting for self-esteem or depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the long-term consequences of childhood sexual violence, independent of current depressive symptoms and low self-esteem, on consistent use of contraception.
Behav. Sci.2015, 5(2), 214-229; doi:10.3390/bs5020214 - published 4 May 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Objective. Group fightingis portrayed as a piece of Americana among delinquent youth, but the behavior produces significant multifaceted negative consequences. The current study examines the heterogeneity and correlates of group fighting using national-level data. Method. Employing data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2002 and 2013 (n = 216,852), we examine links between group fighting and temperamental, parental, and academic factors as well as other externalizing behaviors (i.e., violence, crime, substance use). Results. The prevalence of group fighting in the United States is 14.8% with 11.33% reporting 1–2 group fights and 3.46% reporting 3+ group fights. A clear severity gradient in school functioning and academic performance, sensation seeking, parental disengagement, violence and delinquency, and substance use disorders is seen in the normative, episodic, and repeat offender groups. Conclusions. Youths who participate in 3+ group fights display the exceptionality and severity of other serious/chronic/habitual antisocial youth which suggests that group fighting should be considered a significant indicator of developing criminality.