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Am J Community Psychol. 1999 Dec;27(6):733-51.

Resilience among urban African American male adolescents: a study of the protective effects of sociopolitical control on their mental health.

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Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-2029, USA.


Resilience refers to the notion that some people succeed in the face of adversity. In a risk-protective model of resilience, a protective factor interacts with a risk factor to mitigate the occurrence of a negative outcome. This study tested longitudinally the protective effects of sociopolitical control on the link between helplessness and mental health. The study included 172 urban, male, African American adolescents, who were interviewed twice, 6 months apart. Sociopolitical control was defined as the beliefs about one's capabilities and efficacy in social and political systems. Two mental health outcomes were examined--psychological symptoms and self-esteem. Regression analysis to predict psychological symptoms and self-esteem over time were conducted. High levels of sociopolitical control were found to limit the negative consequences of helplessness on mental health. The results suggest that sociopolitical control may help to protect youths from the negative consequences of feelings of helplessness. Implications for prevention strategies are discussed.

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