Personality, School Climate, and Aggression: Exploring the Interaction Between Individuals and Their Environments

Shayne Jones, University of Kentucky
Pamela Wilcox, University of Kentucky

The field of sociology has contributed considerably to the study of crime. Decades of research produced from this tradition have demonstrated the importance of contextual factors involved in crime. Yet, the discipline of psychology has also contributed a great deal to our understanding of crime. In this paper, we draw upon both fields to better understand adolescent antisocial behavior. Specifically, we are examining the role of personality in aggressive behaviors, and whether that effect is the same across different contexts. From the psychological literature, we utilize personality traits that appear to display strong relations to antisocial and aggressive behaviors. From the sociological literature, we are examining the effect of school climate. School climate, as conceptualized here, refers to school structure, school capital, and school deficits. The data utilized in this study are taken from the Kentucky Youth Survey (KYS), which contains approximately 26,000 students across 40 middle and high schools. Because of the nested nature of the individuals within schools, we employ hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) to explore the effect of personality across different contexts.

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Updated 05/20/2006