Political Efficacy as a Buffer of the Heightened Risk of Posttraumatic Stress in Disadvantaged Communities

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Abstract

External collective political efficacy (PE) is an individual's perception of the extent to which the government is responsive to the needs of his or her group or community or to its collective actions. Does PE play a role in the association between exposure to political violence and posttraumatic stress? The current study aimed to examine whether such PE may help explain why exposure to political violence results in posttraumatic stress for some people but not others. Based on the conservation of resource theory, research has found that residents of some types of communities are less likely to suffer from posttraumatic stress when exposed to political violence, due to the economic and psychological resources these communities provide. Political efficacy, as an individual-level factor that relates to the community, may help predict who will suffer more or less posttraumatic stress from exposure to political violence within a given community. Based on a panel study conducted immediately before and after the 2008–2009 Gaza conflict (N = 650) and hierarchical linear modeling analyses, we found that type of community indeed moderated the association between exposure to political violence and posttraumatic stress, Δ-2 log likelihood = 30.4, p <.001. In addition, we found that PE mitigated the psychological distress resulting from exposure to political conflict in disadvantaged communities, Δ-2 log likelihood = 22.8, p <.001. This study not only further untangled the association between exposure and distress during times of war but also identified the role that governments can play in preventing conflict-induced distress beyond offering physical protection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-565
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume32
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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