Can Ideological Commitment Protect Children's Psychosocial Well-Being in Situations of Political Violence?

Authors


  • I would like to express my delayed thanks to Muli Lahad and Allan Cohen for their help during the fieldwork. I gratefully acknowledge the comments provided by Jari-Erik Nurmi and three anonymous reviewers on the manuscript, as well as statistical advice given by Pentti Keskivaara. Many thanks, too, to James R. Lindsley for the English editing of the article.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Raija-Leena Punamäki, Department of Psychology, Applied Division, P.O. Box 4 (Fabianinkatu 28), SF-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland.

Abstract

The mental health role of ideological commitment (operationalized as glorification of war, patriotic involvement, and defiant attitudes toward the enemy) was studied among 385 Israeli girls and boys (mean age 12 ± 2.50). It was hypothesized that experiences of political hardships do not increase psychosocial problems if children have strong ideological commitment. The hypothesis was conditionally substantiated concerning symptoms of anxiety and insecurity, and depression and feelings of failure. Exposure to political hardships did not increase the presence of these symptoms among children who showed strong ideological commitment. In contrast, among children with weak ideological commitment, exposure increased these symptoms, but not linearily. Furthermore, injury and loss decreased social support if children showed weak ideological commitment. There was also the mediating role of ideological commitment, showing that political hardships increased the ideological commitment that, in turn, was related to a low level of psychosocial problems.

Ancillary