Online Program

Influence of community social capital on personal identity, sexual risk, and future aspirations among African-American emerging adult males

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Susan L. Davies, PhD, School of Public Health/Department of Health Behavior, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Yookyong Lee, PhD, Department of Social Work, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Lonnie Hannon, PhD, Department of Sociology, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL
background: We used a social ecological perspective and possible selves theory to examine the risks and protective supports that may contribute to young African-American males’ identity development.  Possible selves theory argues that individual’s past and present selves help one formulate a future self and serve as a motivator to reduce the discrepancy between one’s real self and ideal self.  In low social capital communities, emerging adult males might have difficulty aligning their real and ideal selves, and as a result, they may resort to risky behaviors to release stress induced by this discrepancy.

methods: We used street intercept techniques to recruit 40 African-American emerging adult males in low-resource communities.  Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and inductively coded by the authors.

results: Their identity as a male was expressed in masculine sexuality, which was a desired role among their peers.  The participants highly valued independence and nonconformance; however, due to a dearth of prosocial opportunities and other social barriers, many felt powerless to change their circumstances.  Discrimination, felt stigma, fatalism and other environmental stressors contributed to a negative future outlook and risky sexual practices.

implications: Results from this study can guide efforts to enhance the formation and continuance of positive self-identity and orientation toward achievement and enable African-American emerging adults to envision a positive future and achieve their goals.  Interventions can: (1) emphasize and accentuate individual and collective strengths; (2) increase motivations for healthy behaviors; (3) identify previously unrecognized aspirations; and (4) focus on skill-building for goal attainment.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss ways to help young African-American males who reside in low-resourced communities develop positive self-identity and reduce discrepancies between their real self and ideal self. Formulate interventions to identify resources at micro, mezzo, and macro levels and to motivate emerging adults in low social capital communities to set attainable goals and achieve them.

Keyword(s): Sexual Risk Behavior, Community-Based Research (CBPR)

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the principal investigator (PI) of this research study, and have served as PI and/or collaborator on many other federally funded research studies seeking to enhance health and quality of life among minority mothers, adolescents and emerging adults living in resource-poor urban communities in the south.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.