Coping with a national crisis: The Israeli experience with the threat of missile attacks

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The major aim of this study is 2-fold: (a) to investigate how people cope with disaster, as evidenced by the specific ways Israelis coped with the impending threat of SCUD missile attacks during the Persian Gulf War; and (b) to shed light on some background, personality, and affective correlates of emotions- and problem-focused coping tactics. Data on peoples' coping tactics, anxiety, physical symptoms, perceived control, pessimism, and demographics were gathered via structured questionnaires in the midst of the Desert Storm Operation (January-February, 1991) on a sample of 600 adult respondents residing in Northern Israel. Overall, respondents reported using a mixture of active coping, wherever possible, and various forms of emotional coping. The most salient coping tactics found among men and women alike were active seeking of information by way of the media, acceptance of the situation, taking action, planning, positive reinterpretation, and seeking out of social support for emotional reasons. The least frequently reported tactics were the use of alcohol or drugs and seeking of social support for instumental reasons. Emotion- and problem-focused coping were found to be modestly associated in this study, with emotion-focused coping positively related to anxiety and physical symptoms. Emotion-focused coping varied as a function of sex and age, with females and younger adults, compared to their male and older adult counterparts, resorting to increased emotion-focused coping. Furthermore, problem-focused coping varied by sex, with females scoring higher than males on problem-focused coping as well. The implications of these results for research on stress and coping under crisis situations were discussed and explicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-224
Number of pages16
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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