Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 113–126 | Cite as

A Social-Cognitive-Ecological Framework for Understanding the Impact of Exposure to Persistent Ethnic–Political Violence on Children’s Psychosocial Adjustment

  • Eric F. DubowEmail author
  • L. Rowell Huesmann
  • Paul Boxer


In this article, we describe a theoretical framework for understanding how persistent and extreme exposure to ethnic–political conflict and violence interacts with cognitive, emotional, and self processes to influence children’s psychosocial adjustment. Three recent strands of theorizing guide our approach. First, we focus on how observational and social learning processes combine to influence the development of social-cognitive structures and processes that affect behavior. Second, we focus on the role of developing self and identity processes in shaping the child’s interactions with the world and the consequences of those interactions. Third, we build on the complex systems perspective on development and assume that human development can only be understood accurately by examining how the multiple contexts affecting children and the adults in their lives interact to moderate biosocial factors which predispose individuals to develop in certain directions. We review the recent empirical literature on children’s exposure to ethnic–political violence and we apply the social-cognitive-ecological framework to the empirical findings in this literature. Finally, we propose future directions for research and clinical implications derived from this framework.


Children War Social cognitions Violence exposure 



This project is funded through NICHD, Exposure to Violence Program, Grant R01 HD047814 (L. Rowell Huesmann, PI). The authors wish to thank the following collaborators on this project: Simha Landau, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Khalil Shikaki, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research; and Jeremy Ginges, New School for Social Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric F. Dubow
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • L. Rowell Huesmann
    • 2
  • Paul Boxer
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Social ResearchThe University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityNewarkUSA

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