American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 733-751

First online:

Resilience Among Urban African American Male Adolescents: A Study of the Protective Effects of Sociopolitical Control on Their Mental Health

  • Marc A. ZimmermanAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan
  • , Jesus Ramírez-VallesAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois
  • , Kenneth I. MatonAffiliated withUniversity of Maryland

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


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 analyses 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.

adolescence African American resiliency mental health