Values as Protective Factors Against Violent Behavior in Jewish and Arab High Schools in Israel


  • The study was supported by a Young Scientist Grant (2058/2002) from the German-Israeli Foundation for Research and Development to the first author. We thank the adolescents who have participated in the study. The comments of Gitit Kavé and Michelle Weiner on an earlier version are greatly appreciated. We also thank Mahmood Khatib, Merav Picker, Miri Barhak, Rim Aalimi, Taly Mizrahi, Dikla Shrem, and Eitan Bar-Ilan, the programmer, for their help in data collection.

concerning this article should be addressed to Ariel Knafo, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study tested the hypothesis that values, abstract goals serving as guiding life principles, become relatively important predictors of adolescents’ self-reported violent behavior in school environments in which violence is relatively common. The study employed a students-nested-in-schools design. Arab and Jewish adolescents (N = 907, M age = 16.8), attending 33 Israeli schools, reported their values and their own violent behavior. Power values correlated positively, and universalism and conformity correlated negatively with self-reported violent behavior, accounting for 12% of the variance in violent behavior, whereas school membership accounted for 6% of the variance. In schools in which violence was more common, power values’ relationship with adolescents’ self-reported violence was especially positive, and the relationship of universalism with self-reported violence was especially negative.