Assessing the Moderating Effects of Anxiety Sensitivity on Antisocial Behavior among Urban African American Youth


African American adolescents are a vulnerable population, overrepresented in the juvenile justice system and underserved by mental health providers. Consequently, a disproportionate number of African American youth in the juvenile justice system have diagnosable mental health problems. This study investigates whether, among African American adolescents, the effects of attitude towards deviance, self-efficacy, and exposure to delinquent peers on antisocial behavior are moderated by anxiety sensitivity. A sample of 238 African American adolescents ages 13–19 from 3 public housing developments participated in this study. Results indicated that 40% of the adolescents reported no involvement in antisocial behaviors. Gender, anxiety sensitivity, and attitudes towards deviance were significant correlates of antisocial behavior. Interaction effects indicate that the relative impact of attitudes towards deviance and exposure to delinquent peers on antisocial behaviors is contingent upon adolescents’ level of anxiety sensitivity. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.