Attitudes toward arabs of Israeli children exposed to missile attacks: The role of personality functions

Nathaniel Laor*, Leo Wolmer, Donald J. Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: This study examines the attitudes toward Arabs of Israeli children who were exposed to missile attacks during the Gulf War as related to exposure, early and present functioning, and appraisal of chances for peace. Methods: A semi-structured interview assessed the attitudes, symptoms, defenses and prosocial behavior of 82 children who had been directly exposed to the missile attacks. Results: The attitudes were not related to the displacement of the family during the war. A very negative attitude was associated with more problems with behavior modulation during the preschool years, an increase in externalizing and posttraumatic symptoms, and more immature defenses. A balanced attitude was associated with age, fewer symptoms, more mature defenses, and more prosocial behavior. Conclusion: Individual vulnerabilities in the face of traumatic experiences could lead to posttraumatic responses that may shape children's social attitudes and behaviors. The resolution of inter-group conflict requires implementation of psychotherapeutic and socio-educational interventions to transform hate and fear into empathy and hope.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004


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