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Community Resilience and the Impact of Stress: Adult Response to Israel's Withdrawal from Lebanon

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Against the background of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, we investigated the relationship between perceived community resilience and the effect of stress and life satisfaction. The research sample included 741 adults, aged 18–85. The participants were divided into four groups, three of which live close to the Israel–Lebanon border and were directly exposed to the threat created by war and terror. The fourth group was considered as a control group and included subjects from the central region of Israel, who were not directly exposed to the war with Lebanon and to the possible outcomes of withdrawal. Questionnaires were distributed to the participants immediately after the withdrawal from Lebanon and were completed by them between 1 and 3 weeks after the withdrawal. The items were designed to measure perceived community resilience, the effects of stress, and life satisfaction, and demographic background. The results show that the level of threat has a significant impact on community resilience, namely, that living in situations with a high level of threat over a long period of time results in a lower level of community resilience. In addition, community resilience serves as a partial mediator between the level of threat and the effect of stress and life satisfaction. The results highlight the importance of perceived community resilience as an individual resource for coping with the threat created by war and terror, thereby connecting between micro- and macro-levels in events related to political violence. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Comm Psychol 32: 439–451, 2004.
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COMMUNITY RESILIENCE AND
THE IMPACT OF STRESS:
ADULT RESPONSE TO ISRAEL’S
WITHDRAWAL FROM LEBANON
Shaul Kimhi
Tel Hai Academic College
Michal Shamai
University of Haifa
Against the background of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, we
investigated the relationship between perceived community resilience and
the effect of stress and life satisfaction. The research sample included 741
adults, aged 18–85. The participants were divided into four groups, three
of which live close to the Israel–Lebanon border and were directly exposed
to the threat created by war and terror. The fourth group was considered
as a control group and included subjects from the central region of Israel,
who were not directly exposed to the war with Lebanon and to the possible
outcomes of withdrawal. Questionnaires were distributed to the
participants immediately after the withdrawal from Lebanon and were
completed by them between 1 and 3 weeks after the withdrawal. The items
were designed to measure perceived community resilience, the effects of
stress, and life satisfaction, and demographic background. The results
show that the level of threat has a significant impact on community
resilience, namely, that living in situations with a high level of threat
over a long period of time results in a lower level of community resilience.
In addition, community resilience serves as a partial mediator between the
level of threat and the effect of stress and life satisfaction. The results
highlight the importance of perceived community resilience as an
individual resource for coping with the threat created by war and terror,
thereby connecting between micro- and macro-le vels in events related to
political violence. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
This project is supported partially by the Project for the Promotion of Higher Education in the Eastern
Galilee: The Jewish Agency for Israel and The United Israel Appeal of Canada, as well as by the Israeli
Ministry of Education.
Correspondence to: Shaul Kimhi, Tel Hai Academic College, Upper Galillee 12210, Israel. E-mail: shaulkim@
telhai.ac.il
ARTICLE
JOURNAL OF COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGY, Vol. 32, No. 4, 439–451 (2004) © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/jcop.20012
The withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon, in May 2000, created political uncertainty that
was a source of both hope and of fear, affecting individuals’ level of stress as well as
their overall well-being. The withdrawal was a unilateral Israeli move, taken without
attaining a formal agreement with either Lebanon or Syria. Living under the threat
created by political violence, such as war and terror, was for years an idiosyncratic
local phenomenon. Such concerns were mostly theoretical for the Western world until
recently, when the events of September 11 made living under political violence and
the threat of terror an existential reality for the majority of Western society.
The present study examines the associations between perceived community resil-
ience and the effects of stress and life satisfaction in situation of war and terror. Most
of the studies conducted in the field to date center on individual variables, such as
personal resilience and social support of the individual, as mediators between the
stressor and the reactions to it. The present study goes beyond the specific under-
standing of the role of community resilience, insofar as it connects both macro- and
micro-systems around a social problem.
REACTIONS TO THE THREAT
OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE
Overall, the mental health literature has described the population living in situations
of war and terror as being at high risk for developing symptoms of distress ~Summer-
field, 1997!. These include generalized fear and anxiety, recurrent thoughts regarding
the terror attack, avoidance behavior, physiological symptoms, depression, problems
in daily functioning, and difficulties in relating to and trusting others. In severe cases,
such a distress reaction can result in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ~PTSD!at differ-
ent levels of severity ~Gidron, Reuven, & Sa’ar, 1999; Solomon, Mikulincer, Waysman,
& Marlowe, 1991!.
One of the main risk factors predicting such physical and psychological responses
is the level of threat of the political violence. The term level of threat indicates a range
of different kinds of threats, from being a victim of the attack, being in close prox-
imity to it, or being close to a person that was present at the attack, to just being
exposed to media coverage of the event. Another aspect that adds to the understand-
ing of level of threat is the duration of the political violence ~Hournai, Armenian,
Zurayk, & Afifi, 1986; Summerfield & Toser, 1991; Tobin, 2000!. In their study of the
effect of the continuing guerilla warfare in Nicaragua during the 1980s, Summerfield
and Toser ~1991!claimed that despite the “low-intensity” warfare, the population
living in the war zone suffered psychological disturbances—often described as a gen-
eral distress impact. Hournai et al. ~1986!and Tobin ~2000!revealed similar psycho-
logical effects among the population in southern Lebanon—just on the other side of
the border with Israel. Their main findings include irritability and sleep disturbances,
as well as a variety of somatic complaints.
The long-term effects of stress are often measured by the level of general well-
being ~Antonovsky, 1991; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984!. Life satisfaction, which is used as
an indicator of adjustment, is also considered as a measure of general well-being
~Bradburn, 1969; Bradburn & Caplovitz, 1965; Campbell, 1976; Diener, 2000; Myers,
2000!. Previous researchers have demonstrated that life varies in accordance with
available coping resources and resilience in general ~Hamarat, Thompson, Zabrucky,
Steele, Matheny, & Aysan, 2001; Schwarzer & Shroder, 1997!. However, these studies
440 Journal of Community Psychology, July 2004
do not focus on the relationships between political violence and the effect of stress
and life satisfaction as they relate to community resilience in particular.
Resilience as a Mediator Between Level of Stress
and the Impact of Stress
For many years, the resilience of individuals at risk has been a major focus in trying to
understand how people overcome stressful situations ~Dyer & McGuinness, 1996; Sonn
& Fisher, 1998!. Resilience is described as “the capacity for successful adaptation,
positive functioning or competenceà despite high-risk status, chronic stress, or follow-
ing prolonged or severe trauma” ~Egeland, Carlson, & Stroufe, 1993, p. 517!. Individ-
ual resilience is often described as a personality trait, such as “hardiness” ~Kobasa,
1982!or “sense of coherence” ~Antonovsky, 1987!. As a personality trait, resilience
includes factors such as the will to live, perception of a situation as challenging, sense
of commitment and control, sense of meaning, self-efficacy, and learned resourceful-
ness ~Antonovsky, 1987; Kobasa, 1982!.
In addition to personal traits, human relations, such as social support, warmth,
and caring, have been identified as crucial to the ability to cope with stressors ~Cicchetti
& Garmezy, 1993; Cowen, Wyman, Work, & Iker, 1995!. These findings are somewhat
similar to the studies that focus on the resilience of human systems, especially families
~Walsh, 1998!. On the basis of these findings regarding social resilience, one may
wonder about the influence of larger systems, such as community resilience, on the
impact of the political violence ~Kulig, 2000; Sonn & Fisher, 1998!.
Community Resilience
In contrast to individual and family resilience, there is very limited knowledge regard-
ing community resilience. Furthermore, the concept is described differently in various
studies and is defined rather loosely ~Kulig, 2000; Sonn & Fisher, 1998!. In general,
the descriptions of community resilience take three different directions: ~a!the resis-
tance direction, which refers to the ability of a community to absorb perturbation
~Halling, Schindler, Walker, & Roughgarden, 1995!;~b!the recovery direction, which
focuses on the speed and ability to recover from the stressors ~Adger, 2000; Breton,
2001; Patton & Johnston, 2001!and ~c!the creativity direction, which addresses the
ability of a social system to maintain a constant process of creating and recreating, so
that the community not only responds to adversity, but in doing so, reaches a higher
level of functioning ~Kulig, 1996; Kulig & Hanson, 1996!.
The differences among studies are even greater in regard to the elements that
comprise community resilience. Adger ~2000!referred to community resilience in
terms of resource dependency, that is, the quantity and quality of resources on which
a community relies and the extent to which these can be modified. Furthermore,
Adgers’ analysis focused on the relationship between the sole community system and
its ecology. Breton ~2001!claimed that resilience is dependent upon a stock of human
and social capital, consisting of people, networks, of local voluntary associations, through
which members of the community can be mobilized for action, and an adequate
services infrastructure.
In contrast to Adger ~2000!and Breton ~2001!, Clauss-Ehlers and Lopez-Levy ~2002!
referred to community resilience as culture-dependent. In their study of Latino and
Mexican youth living in the United States, they identified three factors as being
Community Resilience 441
crucial to community resilience: the obligation to nuclear and extended family
members; the authority of the elder community members; and the character of
relationships, which are valued for their own merit and not as a means to some
other end.
The literature on community resilience in situations of war and threat of terror is
even more limited. However, the existing studies and reports leave one with an impres-
sion of a weakening in community resilience. Most approaches to this issue can be
divided into two lines of thinking. The first focuses on community resilience from the
healing point of view. Community intervention programs are suggested to heal the
individual members, as well as the entire community, from the trauma of war and
terror ~Breton, 2001; Kathleen, Dubrow, & Stamm, 1999; Patton & Johnston 2001;
Summerfield & Toser, 1991; Tobin, 2000!. The second line of thinking focuses on
community resilience as perceived by an individual, associated with the residents’
ability to cope with external threats that affect the entire community ~Hernandez,
2002; Kimweli & Stilwell, 2002; Levine & Ion, 2001!. The present study follows the
latter direction regarding community resilience, as it integrates the impact of political
violence, individual cognitive appraisal concerning the threat, and social aspects of
the community. Such an approach reinforces Summerfield’s ~1997!view of modern
political violence as penetrating the entire fabric of economic, social, and mental
well-being.
Thus, community resilience is defined in this paper as individuals’ sense of the
ability of their own community to deal successfully with the ongoing political violence.
In the effort to operationalize community resilience, it was decided to include Clauss-
Ehlers and Lopez-Levy’s ~2002!and Tobin’s ~2000!ideas regarding culturally based
community resilience, as well as Adger’s ~2000!and Breton’s ~2001!notion of human
capital and human resources as main factors comprising community resilience. In his
study of the Israeli population living close to the Lebanese border, Azaryauo ~1997!
described the cultural and the human capital aspects in detail. One core characteristic
of this population is its ability to cope and to grow despite the ongoing situation of
war and terror for almost 80 years. The culture that has developed in the shadow of
war and terror attacks includes heroic narratives and a sense of pride in being a
resident of this part of the country.
Therefore, an appraisal of the community’s ability to deal with the new situation
and a comparison between the present and past capability of coping with the stress
created by political violence were included in measuring the level of perceived com-
munity resilience. Another culture-oriented issue included in the measurement of
community resilience is whether individuals prefer to stay in the community despite
the political changes or to leave the community and relocate somewhere else. This
issue seems relevant to populations who have the option to move, as was the case in
the present study. In terms of human resources, other factors included in the opera-
tionalization of community resilience were social relations in the community, an appraisal
of the impact of the new situation on social relationships, and trust in the community
leadership.
The withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon offers a special opportunity to examine
the impact of community resilience on individual reactions to the threat of political
violence. Such an understanding may contribute to the limited empirical knowledge
on the role of community resilience in situations of war and terror, as well as to the
development of intervention programs aimed at increasing both individual and com-
munity resilience.
442 Journal of Community Psychology, July 2004
Thus, the hypotheses of this study are: ~a!Communities that experience a higher
level of threat will exhibit a lower level of community resilience in comparison with
communities that experience a lower level of threat; and ~b!community resilience
serves as a partial mediating variable between the level of threat and the effects of
stress and life satisfaction.
METHOD
The study was conducted within 3 weeks after the Israeli army withdrew from Lebanon
~May 2000!.
Sample
The sample consisted of 741 adults, including 328 men and 413 women, ages 18 to 85.
The participants were divided into four groups according to the government’s defi-
nition regarding level of threat ~from high to low!:~a!the Kiryat Shemona group, a
small town on the Israel–Lebanon border; ~b!the border communities ~referred to
here as “fence” communities!;~c!the communities within the range of Katyusha
rockets ~referred to here as “Katyusha”!; and ~d!the communities in similar rural
regions of central Israel ~referred to as “Central”!, which were not directly affected by
the Israeli–Lebanese political conflict and served as the control group. Table 1 presents
the sample distribution according to level of threat, gender, and age.
All communities in the eastern part of the Israel–Lebanon border ~who used to be
within the range of Katusha missiles!were included in the sample. Two different
methods of sampling were used: ~a!In the small communities ~villages!, social work
students distributed the questionnaires to adults who were at home at the time of the
visit ~between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.!and agreed to participate in the project. Most of the
people that were approached cooperated willingly ~about 75%!. The questionnaires
were collected a week later with approximately a 90% response rate. ~b!In small
towns, four different streets were randomly selected, and the sampling procedure
closely resembled that used in the small communities. For the control group, a similar
rural area in the central part of Israel was chosen, followed by the random selection
of seven small communities ~villages!and one small town in the area. The participants
were then selected according to the method used for the research groups. A compar-
ison of demographic variables ~i.e., age, gender, size of family, employment, and
education!did not reveal significant differences between the northern sample ~as a
whole!and the control group.
Table 1. Sample Distribution According to Level of Threat, Gender, and Age
Gender Age
Level of threat NMale Female MSDRange
Kiryat Shemona 161 67 94 37.1 11.6 18 –70
Fence 243 102 141 49.1 12.6 20 –78
Katyusha 166 73 93 50.8 14.5 19–87
Center 171 86 85 41.4 10.2 21– 65
741 328 413 18– 87
Community Resilience 443
Instruments
Level of Threat. In the present research, level of threat was measured by the partici-
pants’ area of residence according to the degree of exposure to hostile attacks in the
past ~mainly Katyusha rocket attacks and terrorist infiltration!and the probability of
becoming a target of further attacks in the future, following Israel’s withdrawal from
southern Lebanon. The first area, the town of Kiryat Shemona, suffered more rocket
attacks than any other place in the area for many years, as well as two terrorist
infiltrations in which citizens, including children, were killed. The “fence” security
area suffered fewer direct rocket attacks, although the residents were also ordered
into the shelters whenever there was an attack on Kiryat Shemona, and some of the
communities suffered massive terrorist infiltrations, resulting in loss of lives of adults
and children. The residents of the “Katyusha” security area also had to stay in shelters
each time a rocket attack was launched and were sometimes directly hit. In addition
they were once the target of terrorist infiltration. However, this area is considered as
more secure than the other two, given that it is located some distance from the
Lebanese border, thereby lowering the probability of terrorist infiltration. The “Cen-
tral” area is located closer to the center of Israel and was assumed to have very low
exposure to threat due to the withdrawal from Lebanon.
Community Resilience. Community resilience was measured by a series of questions devel-
oped for this specific project. To achieve content validity, the items were chosen
according to the theoretical background regarding community resilience: social resources,
social relationships, leadership, and community history and culture. Accordingly, the
items included in the current study are: community resilience at present, comparison
of community resilience at present with that of the past, general state of social rela-
tionships in the community, influence of the new political situation on the social
relationships in the community, personal plans to stay or to leave the community,
leadership ability of the official community leaders, and satisfaction with the way in
which the local council prepared the community for the retreat from Lebanon.
The items were rated on a 5-point Likert scale. Factor analysis on the correlation
matrix of the seven items ~using Varimax rotation!revealed only one factor ~in accor-
dance with the initial assumption!. The reliability, measured by Cronbach’s Alpha, of
the six items was .70. An average score was calculated for the seven items. To provide
further validation after collecting the data, social and community workers from the
studied communities in the three groups from the north ~Kiryat Shemona, Fence, and
Katuysha!were asked to rate each community according to three levels of community
resilience ~high, medium, and low!, based on their professional assessment and long
acquaintance with these communities. The correlation between the two rates, the
current scale, and the expert rate was r.73, p.001.
Impact of Stress. Three instruments were used to measure the impact of stress.
1. Level of concern—The level of concern was measured by 12 items that were
developed for this specific study. To achieve content validity, the questionnaire
was constructed in two phases: ~a!A short time before the withdrawal, social
and community workers were asked to list the type of concerns expressed by
people in the communities in which they worked. ~b!The items were con-
structed based on the types of concerns that were expressed by more than 50%
444 Journal of Community Psychology, July 2004
of the communities. In each one of the items, the subjects were asked to rate
on a 5-point Likert scale, the level of concern they felt as a result of the current
political situation,. Factor analysis on the correlation matrix of the 12 items was
conducted by principal component analysis using Varimax rotation, without
limiting the number of factors. The analysis revealed two factors that included
all 12 statements, showing the predetermined factor loading of .45. The facto-
rial construct revealed agreement between the semantic meaning of the state-
ments included in each factor and the semantic meaning that was assigned to
each factor.
The first factor focuses on concerns regarding future security. It includes five
items ~explaining 27.5% of the variance!that describe the condition of the
shelters in the community, family safety, security conditions along the border,
traffic on the roads along the border, and the ability to continue routine life.
The reliability of the five items measured by Cronbach’s Alpha was .83.
The second factor focuses on social and economic concerns. It includes seven
items ~explaining 24.5% of the variance!that describe issues such as personal
family financial situation, economic situation of the community, possible dam-
age to tourism ~one of the main income resources!, social security of the family
and community, and concerns regarding the future of the entire region. The
reliability of the seven items measured by Cronbach’s Alpha was .70.
2. Others’ stress—One of the issues mentioned by the social and community
workers was the influence of significant others, including children, spouse,
other family members, and close friends. As a result an appraisal of concerns
expressed we included appraisals of concerns expressed by significant others,
consisting of six items that were developed for this study. The participants were
asked to estimate, on a 5-point Likert scale, the extent to which the current
situation causes stress reactions among their significant others. The reliability
of the seven items measured by Cronbach’s Alpha was .79.
3. Stress symptoms—Stress symptoms were measured by the short version of Brief
Symptom Inventory ~BSI; Derogatis & Spencer, 1982!, a self-report scale designed
to measure the level of psychopathology resulting from stress. The inventory
consists of 53 items measuring nine symptom areas, with each item rated on a
5-point Likert scale. In this specific study, only three subscales—anxiety, depres-
sion, and somatization ~19 items!—were used. The validity and reliabilit y of the
inventory have been established in several studies, including research that
employed the Hebrew translated version ~Derogatis & Savitz, 2000; Gilbar &
Ben-Zur, 2002!. Considering that the 19 items showed very high reliability .94,
as measured by Cronbach’s Alpha, we used the scale as a whole. An average
score was calculated for the 19 items.
Life Satisfaction. Satisfaction with life is an indication of general well-being ~Bradburn,
1969; Bradburn & Caplovitz, 1965; Campbell, 1976!. It is often measured by one
question about life satisfaction, which respondents are asked to rate on a 5-point scale.
In the present study, life satisfaction was evaluated at two points in time: the present
and last year. The reliability of these two items, as measured by Cronbach’s Alpha was
.78; thus, an average score was calculated for the two items.
Community Resilience 445
RESULTS
A multivariate analysis was performed to examine community resilience and the impacts
of stress and life satisfaction as a function of the level of threat. To account for
possible gender and age differences, we controlled for these variables in all analyses
~see Table 2!. The overall analysis of variance was significant, F2.1
~6, 610!
,p.05.
In accordance with the first hypothesis, the MANOVA analysis revealed that the
level of threat has a significant effect on community resilience, F32.05
~3, 677!
,p
.001, whereas gender and age, as well as all three possible interactions, were not
significant. Scheffe Post Hoc test showed that the only differences are between Kiryat
Shemona and each of the other three groups ~p.001!.
Given that Kiryat Shemona is the only town among the groups near the Lebanese
border, while the Fence and Katyusha groups include only villages, it was not clear
whether the results were due to the level of threat or to the type of community. Thus,
we compared community resilience in Kiryat Shemona with participants from the
same type of community in the Center group. No significant differences were found
between these two groups regarding the biographical variables of age, gender, level of
education, and number of children. However, participants from Kiryat Shemona reported
a significantly lower level of community resilience ~t⫽⫺10.20, p.001!. This indi-
cates that the differences between Kiryat Shemona and the other groups are related to
the level of threat, rather than to the type of community. The results partly support
our first hypothesis, given that there were no significant differences between two of
the research groups ~Fence and Katyusha!and the control group, as was expected.
In accordance with the mediation hypothesis, we examined the patterns of cor-
relations between the level of threat, community resilience, and the effects of stress
and life satisfaction ~see Table 3!. These patterns of correlations fit our expectation
that community resilience would be negatively associated with effects of stress and
positively associated with life satisfaction.
A two-step hierarchical regression was conducted to test the unique contribution
of community resilience to the effects of stress and life satisfaction ~see Table 4!.
The regression was applied on each of the dependent variables: impacts of stress
and life satisfaction. In Model 1, the level of threat significantly predicted each of the
Table 2. Community Resilience, Impact of Stress, and Life Satisfaction, by Level of Exposure to Threat
Kiriat
Shemona
N161
Fence
N244
Katyusha
N166
Center
N171
Multivariate
analysis:
MANOVA
a
Variables M SD M SD M SD M SD F h
2
Community resilience 2.58a.55 3.31b.48 3.25b.49 3.38b.47 32.05*** .13
Security concern 3.88a.90 3.27b.99 3.01bc .95 2.81c.88 14.67*** .06
Social0economy concern 3.59 a.78 3.37a.92 3.44a.82 3.07 b.83 3.07* .01
Others’ stress 3.21a1.00 2.31b.76 2.15b.76 1.69c.75 33.18*** .13
Symptoms 2.05a.92 1.40b.52 1.40b.49 1.36b.43 13.31*** .06
Life satisfaction 3.03a1.03 3.57b.80 3.47b.83 3.63b.84 3.13* .01
a
Age and gender are controlled
a,b,c
Means presented in a row with a different symbol are significantly different according to Scheffe Post Hoc test ~p.05!
*p.05. ***p.001.
446 Journal of Community Psychology, July 2004
dependent variables. In Model 2, community resilience was added to the regression
equation. As can be seen, the contribution of community resilience lowered the con-
tribution of the level of threat in each of the dependent variables, although its con-
tribution remained significant. The resulting R
2
change between Model 2 and Model
1 was significant for all of the dependent variables at a level of p0.001. Thus, the
findings confirm our second hypothesis that community resilience acts as a partial
mediator between the level of threat and the effects of stress and life satisfaction.
DISCUSSION
The results of this study show that the group living under the highest level of stress
exhibited the lowest level of community resilience, as well as a higher level of stress
and a lower level of life satisfaction. Unfortunately, there is very little empirical data
regarding the effect of intensity and duration of exposure to stressors on community
resilience. Most of the existing knowledge on this topic is based on clinical observa-
tions. However, the impact of intense, recurrent, and long-term exposure to stressors
has been extensively studied and discussed in regard to individuals. Comparison of the
results of this study with the pioneering work of Selye ~1993!on individual reactions
to stress reveals a similar trend. In his General Adaptation Syndrome model, Selye
claims that the intensity of stress and the repetition of stressful events cause exhaus-
tion. This argument has been debated for many years, and the question of whether
repeated exposure to the same stressor results in immunization, habituation, or break-
down remains open ~Goldberger & Breznitz, 1993!.
The discussion of the repetition of stressors leads to consideration of a related
issue, namely, the impact of the duration of exposure to stress. Both epidemiological
and clinical studies of risk factors leading to somatic and psychiatric problems reveal
that even a minor stressor, which is experienced daily and for a prolonged period, may
produce cumulative damage ~Goldberger & Breznitz, 1993!. However, the absence of
empirical results that can be compared with those in the present study underscores
the need for further research on the effect of repetition, duration, and intensity of a
stressor on community resilience. Further research is also needed to enhance our
understanding of the relationships between perceived and objective community resilience.
The results suggest that a perception of the community as resilient and able to
cope with the new political situation is positively related to individual ability to resist
stressors. Therefore, such a perception serves as a mediator between the level of threat
Table 3. Pearson Correlations of Community Resilience, Impacts of Stress, and Life Satisfaction
Community resilience
Whole sample Communities under threat Center community
Security concern .30*** .27*** .19**
Social0economic concern .18*** .11** .29***
Others’ stress .39*** .38*** .19*
Psychological symptoms .39*** .39*** .20***
Life satisfaction .27*** .26*** .25***
*p.05. **p.01. ***p.001.
Community Resilience 447
and its impact. The effect of community resilience on the individual may heighten the
importance of the connection between the micro-level–the individual and the macro-
level–the community—in situations of war and terror. As Summerfield ~1997!argues,
political violence penetrates the entire fabric of economic, social, and mental well-
being. This understanding warrants further attention when examining the effect of
war and terror on different populations and in different contexts.
Over the last 60 years, a vast body of research has been produced about the effect
of war and political terror on individuals, as well as on coping mechanisms and
resilience ~e.g., Breznitz, 1967; Garbarino & Kostelny, 1996; Osofsky, 1997; Punamaki,
Qouta, & Sarraj, 1997; Shamai, 2002; Shamai & Lev, 1999!. However, the knowledge
and research in relation to the reverse effect, that is, the inf luence of perceived
community resilience on individual resistance to stress, are very limited. It is impor-
tant to note that there are many studies dealing with the social aspects of stress as well
~Pearlin, 1993!. Yet again, these studies do not address how individual perceptions of
Table 4. Two-Step Hierarchical Regression of Level of Threat and Community Resilience on Impact
of Stress and Life Satisfaction
Model 1 Model 2
Variable BSEB bBSEBb
Security concern
Level of threat .338 .033 .358*** .270 .035 .285***
Community resilience .315 .065 .180***
R2.128 .155
R2change — .027
Fchange — 23.74***
Social0economic concern
Level of threat .146 .029 .179*** .104 .032 .128***
Community resilience .191 .059 .127***
R2.179 .214
R2change — .013
Fchange — 10.41***
Others’ stress
Level of threat .457 .029 .505*** .374 .031 .413***
Community resilience .382 .058 .227***
R2.255 .298
R2change — .043
Fchange — 43.82***
Stress symptoms
Level of threat .194 .022 .309*** .116 .023 .185***
Community resilience .360 .042 .311***
R2.096 .177
R2change — .081
Fchange — 72.517***
Life satisfaction
Level of threat .157 .031 .187*** .078 .033 .094**
Community resilience .362 .061 .234***
R2.035 .081
R2change — .046
Fchange — 35.521***
**p.01. ***p.001.
448 Journal of Community Psychology, July 2004
the resilience of various social institutions affect individual resistance to stress. The
results of this study are somewhat similar to those of the few previous studies that
focus on the relationship between community resilience as an individual resource and
the ability to cope with threats that affect the entire community ~Hernandez, 2002;
Kimweli & Stilwell, 2002; Levine & Ion, 2001!.
Limitations of the Study
The most significant limitation of the study is the way in which perceived community
resilience was measured. As there is no accepted instrument for evaluating perceived
community resilience, we developed one specifically for this research, taking into
account cultural aspects of the region. Thus, there is still a need for caution when
applying it to other cultures. It seems that much more work is necessary to develop an
instrument for measuring perceived community resilience, even though the instru-
ment presented in this study may serve as a basis for re-testing.
Implications
The findings of the present study may have implications for both research and prac-
tice. The results add to the limited empirical knowledge of the effect of perceived
community resilience on the individual’s ability to resist stressors. The findings call
for further research regarding questions such as: What factors cause individuals to
perceive the community as resilient? Do community-related or personal factors affect
perceived community resilience? How are the different factors interrelated? Does the
situation of war and terror evoke or weaken specific factors, and if so, how?
With respect to practical implications, it is important to stress the need for devel-
oping community-oriented programs, not only for the sake of the community, but
also for the benefit of individuals. It seems that helping communities to create a
narrative that focuses on past success in coping with stressors, as well as seeking
strength to cope with them in the present, may lead to increased perceived commu-
nity resilience.
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