The gulf war: Distressful reactions to scud missiles attacks

Thalma E. Lobel, Itzhak Gilat, Norman S. Endler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the relationships among coping strategies, trait anxiety and distressful reactions (State anxiety and fears and symptoms) of Israeli civilians under missile attack during the 1991 Gulf war. During the war sixty-six subjects (46 females and 20 males) completed a questionnaire that measured their distressful reactions and included fears in various situations (e.g., during the night, in the sealed room) and various symptoms (e.g., sleep disturbances, sensitivity to noise). In addition each subject completed the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS, Endler & Parker, 1990a), a multidimensional self-report measure of coping which measures three major coping strategies: task-oriented, emotion-oriented and avoidance-oriented. Subjects also completed the State and Trait anxiety scales of the Endler Multidimensional Anxiety Scales (EMAS, Endler, Edwards, & Vitelli, 1991). The state anxiety scales measure two components of the individual's state anxiety, cognitive worry and autonomic emotional reactions. The trait anxiety scales measure the individual's predisposition to experience anxiety in four different situations: social evaluation, physical danger, ambiguous situations and daily routines. The results showed that individuals who used emotion-oriented coping more frequently, experienced more state anxiety and symptoms and fears, (i.e., experienced greater distress) during the war. Task-oriented and avoidance-oriented coping were not related to the distressful reactions. It was further found that subjects high on physical danger trait anxiety and social evaluation trait anxiety experienced greater fears and more symptoms (i.e., experienced greater distress) during the war. Persons high on social evaluation trait anxiety also experienced great cognitive-worry state anxiety. The results are discussed within the framework of the multidimensional model of stress, anxiety and coping (Endler, 1988; Endler & Parker, 1990a, 1990b) and the special characteristics of the Gulf war situatin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-23
Number of pages15
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1993


  • Stress
  • anxiety
  • coping
  • war


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