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Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology
Stress and Depression as Pathways Between Violent Conflict Exposure and
Moral Beliefs: Why People Sometimes Condone “Bad” Things
Anastasiia Timmer, Robert J. Johnson, Olena Antonaccio, and Ekaterina V. Botchkovar
Online First Publication, March 24, 2022.
Timmer, A., Johnson, R. J., Antonaccio, O., & Botchkovar, E. V. (2022, March 24). Stress and Depression as Pathways
Between Violent Conflict Exposure and Moral Beliefs: Why People Sometimes Condone “Bad” Things. Peace and Conflict:
Journal of Peace Psychology. Advance online publication.
Stress and Depression as Pathways Between Violent Conict Exposure and
Moral Beliefs: Why People Sometimes Condone BadThings
Anastasiia Timmer
, Robert J. Johnson
, Olena Antonaccio
, and Ekaterina V. Botchkovar
Department of Criminology and Justice Studies, California State University, Northridge
Department of Sociology and Criminology, University of Miami
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northeastern University
Sometimes nations at war have the support of their citizens, at other times, civilians with little tolerance for
human casualties and violence demand peaceful solutions. This study examines why moral attitudes can
erode during violent conicts and what factors may explain how it happens. Using a random sample of
civilians in a vulnerable lower- and middle-income country, Ukraine, we explore the consequences of
exposure to a prolonged war. Specically, we assess the relationship between vicarious war exposure and
moral beliefs about violence subsequently including daily stressors and depressive symptoms as potential
pathways between them. We nd that civilians who report more vicarious exposure to an ongoing war are
less likely to disapprove of violence. Daily stressors and depression further serve as important pathways
linking war exposure to moral beliefs about violence. Our study illustrates the need for appropriate mental
health services, stress management, and other critical interventions to help populations experiencing war
and other traumatic occurrences. It also suggests that future studies should pay particular attention to how
vital life events affect individual beliefs and attitudes.
Public Signicance Statement
Vicarious exposure to violent conicts (e.g., hearing and reading about traumatic war events on the
news, social media) erodes moral beliefs, making violence more acceptable among civilians. Daily
stressors and depression explain the inuence of war exposure on moral beliefs. Therefore, there need to
be nuanced peacemaking strategies focused on improving the daily lives and health of those living in
vulnerable countries embroiled in violent conicts, such as Ukraine.
Keywords: war, violent conict, moral beliefs, mental health, Ukraine
War exposure is a traumatic experience that has enduring effects
on any population. Military conicts are associated with the loss of
human lives, personal injuries, health problems, nancial and family
strains, stigma, psychosocial adjustment issues, changes in decision-
making processes, and a multitude of other problems around the
world (Akello et al., 2010;Betancourt et al., 2010;Cairns, 1987;
Cummings et al., 2017;Dubow et al., 2009;Morina et al., 2011;
Schiffer et al., 2020). Just as importantly, violent conicts may
involve dehumanization of the enemy and desensitization to the pain
and suffering of others, both theorized to be preceded by moral
disengagement (Bandura, 1999;Bandura et al., 1975). Unsurpris-
ingly, empirical literature indicates that major traumatic events and
victimization may have substantial effects on different aspects of
morality (Ferguson & Cairns, 1996;Rosler & Branscombe, 2020;
Soares et al., 2018). For example, in the context of war, people could
be more likely to accept violence as the norm and perceive destruc-
tive actions in the form of violence as serving moral purposes
(Bandura, 1999;McAlister et al., 2006). In fact, the indiscriminate,
yet persistent, violence experienced in wartime may promote lasting
changes in moral values not only among veterans, but also civilians.
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Anastasiia Timmer
ANASTASIIA TIMMER is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Crimi-
nology and Justice Studies at California State University, Northridge.
Anastasiia Timmer is a global crime and justice researcher. She focuses
on causes of crime and violence in different countries and the role of mental
health and trauma in crime and criminal justice outcomes.
ROBERT J. JOHNSON is a Professor of Sociology at the University of
Miami. He has research interests in the sociology of health, mental health,
the life course, trauma, and the structure of multiple antecedents
and consequences of health and illness.
OLENA ANTONACCIO is a Professor of Sociology and Criminology at the
University of Miami. Her interests include theory testing and development,
comparative criminology, and applications of sociological and criminologi-
cal theories to cybercrime.
EKATERINA V. BOTCHKOVAR is an Associate Professor of Criminology and
Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. Her interests include global
criminology, criminological theory testing, and comparative criminology.
This work was supported by the grants from University of Miami and
Northeastern University.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Anastasiia
Timmer, Department of Criminology and Justice Studies, California State
University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Sierra Hall, Northridge, CA
91330, United States. Email:
Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology
© 2022 American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1078-1919
It is reasonable to conclude that, as violence becomes acceptable, it
is more difcult to establish peace, promote health, and recover from
war trauma. As such, understanding and addressing the complex
processes altering peoples moral beliefs about violence are crucial
for developing better policies and peacemaking strategies in war and
postwar contexts.
Although prior studies point to the connection between war
experiences and different aspects of morality (Cairns, 1996;
DiPietro, 2019;Ferguson & Cairns, 1996,2002), there are still
gaps in the literature integrating major theoretical perspectives in
medical sociology and social psychology to outline and explain the
complex links between vicarious exposure, daily stressors, depres-
sion, and moral beliefs. Moreover, there is scarce research on how
and why war exposure and moral beliefs are related in vulnerable
countries currently embroiled in violent conicts, such as Ukraine.
Using data from random household samples from two major
Ukrainian cities and drawing on the important aspects of the stress
process model (Pearlin, 1989) and the theoretical framework of war
and moral beliefs (Bandura, 1999;Bandura et al., 1975), we focus
on less explored links between war experiences and civilian moral
beliefs. Considering the stress process model is comprehensive and
difcult to fully test in one paper (Aneshensel & Mitchell, 2014), we
specically address its two important but understudied components.
First, we focus on vicarious war exposure, because vicarious
exposure to critical life events has been argued to be an inuential
form of trauma requiring more scholarly attention (Cougle et al.,
2012;Johnson et al., 2017). Vicarious exposure may involve
watching war-related traumatic events on the news and social media,
reading about them, and hearing from those who experienced them
in a war zone. Second, we incorporate the concept of moral beliefs
about violence as the outcome (Bandura, 1999;McAlister et al.,
2006). Although various traumatic life events have been theorized to
push individuals to redene their concepts of right and wrong
(Lazarus & Folkman, 1984;Pearlin, 1989), these theoretical pre-
mises have yet to be comprehensively tested in different sociocul-
tural contexts. Finally, further drawing on the stress process model,
we frame the role of daily stressors and depressive symptoms as
important intervening links between vicarious war exposure and
moral beliefs. Overall, our study provides an extension and a more
comprehensive model that links unique forms of stressors and moral
beliefs in the context of a contemporary violent conict in Ukraine
Literature Review
The Detrimental Consequences of War
To date, literature has underscored a variety of negative con-
sequences of past and ongoing violent conicts. Both veterans and
civilians have been found to experience trauma and mental health
disorders including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sui-
cidal ideation, psychological distress, anxiety, addictions as well as
psychopathological and neuropsychological decits (Cairns &
Darby, 1998;Cairns et al., 1995;Dieter & Engel, 2019;Ferry
et al., 2010;McLafferty et al., 2016;Rozanov et al., 2019;
Turnip et al., 2010). Individuals from countries engulfed in violent
conicts also tend to suffer from high levels of physical and
communicable diseases (Hoefer, 2008;Maia et al., 2011).
Wars and violent conicts further change societal structure by
generating more female-headed households, intergenerational
poverty, and social inequalities (Buvinic et al., 2012;Justino,
2007). Moreover, exposure to violent conicts has been found to
increase behavioral problems among children (Cairns, 1987,
1990;Keresteš,2006) and violent and aggressive behaviors
among adults including civilians and combatants (Castano
et al., 2020;Catani, 2010;Gartner & Kennedy, 2018;Saile
et al., 2014). For example, focusing on combatants from four
conict-ridden countries, a recent study by Castano et al. (2020)
reveals that those who have been exposed to such extreme
stressor as victimization are also more likely to engage in viola-
tions of international humanitarian law including different vio-
lent actions toward other people. Furthermore, there are also
numerous collateral consequences of violent conicts. For
instance, children whose parents have experienced war or violent
conict including those who have been deployed tend to suffer
from different mental health problems (Forrest et al., 2018;Lester
& Flake, 2013). It is important to note that war exposure does not
affect everyone equally as certain social contexts as well as social
groups including children and women can be particularly sus-
ceptible to the effect of violent conicts (Cairns, 1987;Cairns &
Wilson, 1985;Cummings et al., 2011,2017;Fields, 2013;Joseph
et al., 1993).
Notably, the development of media and technology has changed
the world in many ways including the manner in which violent
conicts inuence societies (Rozanov et al., 2019). Individual
exposure to armed conicts vicariously, via television and social
media, in near real time creates strong feelings of anxiety and
instability globally (Rozanov et al., 2019). Researchers underscore
various detrimental consequences of such exposure to violent
conicts around the world (Hopwood & Schutte, 2017;Kira
et al., 2008;Lerman et al., 2013;Silver et al., 2013). For example,
Cairns and colleagues have noted that exposure to television news
about violent conict can change violence perceptions and aware-
ness levels among children in Northern Ireland (Cairns, 1987,
pp. 4243; 1990;Cairns et al., 1980). Focusing on the Iraq war,
Kira et al. (2008) have revealed that exposure to media news about
the war has a strong inuence on the mental and physical health of
civilians. Overall, this research demonstrates that vicarious exposure
to violent conicts is associated with detrimental life outcomes. Yet,
there is still a gap in the literature examining the inuence of
vicarious exposure on moral beliefs about violence. Specically,
to our knowledge, no research has focused on the complex links
between vicarious war exposure and moral beliefs during the
contemporary violent conict taking place in a vulnerable country
of Ukraine.
The Role of Violent Conicts in Moral Attitudes and
One of the critical consequences of war exposure is changes in
peoples moral beliefs and attitudes. Empirical literature points to
the existence of a relationship between violent conicts and different
aspects of morality including the degree to which people view
violence as acceptable (DiPietro, 2019;Lorenc & Branthwaite,
1986). In-depth interviews with veterans reveal that exposure to
intense human suffering and cruelty in the course of military duty
has changed their core moral beliefs. Of particular salience are such
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events as personal exposure to disproportionate violence, incidents
involving civilians, and news media and family members/friends
sharing war-related stories including visual images of death and
carnage, especially of women and children (Drescher et al., 2011;
Ferrajão & Oliveira, 2015a,2015b;Nash & Litz, 2013). In a similar
vein, DiPietro (2019), drawing on life history data, nds that certain
groups of Bosnian war male refugees and nationals have justied
and normalized the use of violence.
Finally, several recent quantitative studies have also examined the
relationship between traumatic events and certain aspects of moral-
ity. Using a sample of 1,449 Americans, McAlister et al. (2006) nd
that those exposed to September 11 terrorist attacks are more likely
to morally justify military attacks on other countries. Studies also
nd that terrorism-related trauma increases the support for political
violence in Israel (Hobfoll et al., 2006;Johnson et al., 2009).
Focusing on terrorist attacks, Michalski (2019) also points to the
idea of moralistic violence in various contexts and notes that certain
groups can justify their existence or behavior as the opposition to
other groups. Furthermore, focusing on the 2014 Gaza War, Zipris et
al. (2019) underscore the role of emotions as potential links between
war and support for militancy.
Another body of research has focused on moral development and
reasoning, particularly of children and youth who have been
exposed to violent conicts (Cairns, 1996;Elbedour et al., 1997;
Ferguson & Cairns, 1996,2002). The ndings regarding the rela-
tionship between violent conicts and moral development have been
mixed. For example, whereas Ferguson and Cairns (1996) illustrate
the adverse effects of living in a midst of violent conict on moral
maturity of children and adolescents, Ferfuson and Cairns (2002)
nd that youth exposed to violent conict have not experienced
issues related to moral development. Some studies also report the
opposite effects suggesting that children residing in areas of North-
ern Ireland with more violence have had higher levels of moral
development than those in areas with less violence (see
Breslin, 1982).
Because the relationship between exposure to violent conicts
and different life outcomes is complex (Cairns, 1987;Cummings et
al., 2017;Dawes, 1990), there is the need for more studies on the
consequences of violent conicts with the focus on specic theo-
retical mechanisms underlying these relationships and explicating
howand why(Cummings et al., 2017;DiPietro, 2016;Dubow
et al., 2009;McLernon et al., 2014). It is particularly important to
examine such aspects of morality as moral beliefs about violence as
this domain has not received full attention in prior literature and has
yet to be studied in some social contexts with ongoing violent
conicts, such as Ukraine.
Theoretical Framework
War and Moral Beliefs
Morality is commitment to beliefs discriminating between right
and wrong (Bandura et al., 1975). Whereas generations of social
scientists have emphasized its overall importance to social organi-
zations and understanding of human behavior (e.g., Durkheim,
1951/1897), Pearlin (1988) calls for examination of the moral value
component within the stress process paradigm, prompting us to
focus specically on the relationship between war exposure as a
unique stressor and moral attitudes. Several theoretical perspectives
hint at the existence of the relationship between war exposure and
moral beliefs about violence.
First, Bandura (1991,1999) recognizes the importance of envi-
ronmental factors in dening and changing moral values. As moral
agency develops, people actively construct the standards of right and
wrong serving as guidelines and deterrents for their conduct includ-
ing violence. The moral self, inuenced by the context in which it
develops, encompasses self-organizing, proactive, self-reective,
and self-regulative processes. The moral agency of individuals is
thus revealed in the ability to refrain from acting inhumanely (e.g.,
violently) and the proactive power to act humanely. In Banduras
theoretical framework, war is a structural condition that places
severe limitations on the ability of individuals to control their lives
pushing them toward moral disengagement (Bandura, 1999). In the
state of moral disengagement, violent conduct is often made per-
sonally and socially acceptable by portraying it as serving socially
worthy or morally justied purposes.
In addition, war can also morally injure individuals when they
participate in or witness inhumane or cruel actions failing to
prevent [them](Litz et al., 2009, p. 700). Moral injury is a state
of cognitive dissonance and loss of faith in previously deeply held
beliefs and expectations about own or othersability to conform to
moral rules (Nash & Litz, 2013). Those morally injuredin
wartime may lose their moral compass, eventually nding violence
to be more and more acceptable.
The Role of Daily Stressors
To address the role of major life events in peoples lives, Pearlin et
al. (1981) introduced the stress process model. According to them,
various adverse life events and conditions (e.g., divorce, job loss)
can be understood as stressors that affect people mentally and
physically and increase the likelihood of different health problems
(Pearlin, 1989;Pearlin et al., 1981). Drawing on Pearlins (1989)
framework, war exposure can be conceptualized as a primary
stressor, which adversely restructures social and economic condi-
tions of life (Pedersen, 2002;Zipris et al., 2019). During war, people
may witness violence, lose their loved ones, live in fear, get
forcefully displaced, have their property destroyed, and experience
other traumatic war-related events (Akello et al., 2010;Cohen,
2018;Kwon, 2012;Morina et al., 2011).
Consistent with Pearlins (1989) framework, one pathway for the
war exposure (as a major or primary stressor) to detrimentally affect
individual outcomes is through proliferating secondary stressors.
Drawing on the stress process paradigm, we conceptualize war
exposure to be a primary stressor, notably a potentially traumatic
and highly disruptive major life event. Major life events such as
these are of sufcient magnitude to change the usual activities of
most persons(Aneshensel & Mitchell, 2014, p. 56). They are
characterized by high severity and are normally outside of the
range of human experience(Aneshensel & Mitchell, 2014, p. 61).
On the other hand, daily stressors are day-to-day frustrations, which
are normally less severe and include such stressors as arguments
with people, nancial concerns, and others. Major life events are
argued to shape and exacerbate daily stressors including economic
hardship, loss of employment, inability to nish education, inter-
personal conict, social isolation, stigma, and other daily problems
(Miller & Rasmussen, 2010;Vinck & Pham, 2013). Overall,
consistent with the stress process paradigm, major life events and
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daily stressors are conceptually distinct, and the former is a predictor
of the latter.
Further drawing on this perspective, we argue that daily stressors
that have been created or exacerbated because of war exposure,
including vicarious exposure, may lead to the erosion of individ-
ual moral beliefs. For instance, the chaos of the wartime may
heighten ones fear of violence and crime, provoke interpersonal
conict, exacerbate nancial hardship as well as cause many
other daily issues. These chronic secondary stressors encountered
daily may, in turn, negatively affect social relationships that
reinforce moral boundaries. These processes may lead to dis-
counting the effects of ones actions toward others and the
distortion of their moral meanings (Bandura, 1999). Individuals
might perceive their own harmful actions as excusable, justify
abuse and cruelty, and accept violence as a necessary means to an
end in certain situations.
The Role of Depression
Studies have shown that wars and violent conicts have detri-
mental effects on mental health (Akello et al., 2010;Morina et al.,
2011), with depression being one of the most common mental health
outcomes of war (Hobfoll et al., 2006;Morina et al., 2011). At least
two lines of thought suggest that depression may also mediate the
relationship between war and moral beliefs. On the one hand, those
who are depressed may be prone to experiencing moral emotions
such as guilt, self-blame, and shame (Bortolan, 2017;Pulcu et al.,
2013). Bandura (1999) argues that to avoid such emotions indivi-
duals may refrain from any behaviors that violate their moral
standards. Thus, it is possible that depressed individuals may be
particularly intolerant of violence and perceive it as morally unac-
ceptable because of their propensity to feel guilty about any
On the other hand, depressive symptoms may lead to social
isolation, resulting in the breakdown of moral beliefs in the absence
of social control (Durkheim, 1951/1897). As a result, individuals
may be less likely to disapprove of violence. In addition, because
daily stressors are a common consequence of major life events
resulting in detrimental mental health outcomes (Avison et al., 2009;
Pearlin & Johnson, 1977), depression may also act as a link between
proliferating daily stressors and weakening moral beliefs.
The Ukrainian Context
Since the collapse of the former Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics (USSR), Ukraine has undergone dramatic socioeconomic
shifts associated with the transition to market economy. In the early
1990s, Ukraine experienced the state of widespread normlessness
and the new anything goesmentality, which exacerbated the
preexisting problem of corruption penetrating various spheres of
life (Foglesong & Solomon, 2001). Proliferation of poverty and
social isolation in post-Soviet countries have also contributed to
numerous health issues among Ukrainians (Roberts et al., 2010).
The armed conict in Ukraine began in February 2014 with the
invasion of the country by the troops from Russia, which used the
political instability in Ukraine to annex the Crimea region. Next, the
pro-Russian protests developed in the region of Lugansk and
Donetsk (aka Donbas), further destabilizing the situation and,
with the military support from Russia, the insurgency quickly
developed into a full-blown war (Judah, 2016;Mykhnenko,
2020). Since the beginning of the Donbas conict, there have
been more than 10,000 civilian deaths, more than 1.5 million people
have been dislocated from war zones, and millions of people have
been experiencing other war-related events (Council on Foreign
Relations, 2021).
The two cities, Lviv and Kharkiv, are especially suitable for the
study. They are major regional centers and among the largest
Ukrainian cities most affected by war. Lviv is the biggest city in
Western Ukraine (pop. 728,350), and Kharkivin Eastern Ukraine
[pop. 1,450,361] (State Statistics Committee of Ukraine, 2018).
Kharkiv is located next to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of
Ukraine that are controlled by the pro-Russian separatists. Hundreds
of thousands of people ed from the ongoing war to Kharkiv. Lviv
has been one of the primary sources for the government troops and
volunteer battalions ghting the separatists in Donbas. In both cities,
residents have faced various conict-related issues. Overall, given
the timeliness of research on war exposure and moral beliefs, the
current historical context in Ukraine provides an unfortunate yet
opportune place for such an examination. Investigating the theorized
links between war exposure, daily stressors, depression, and moral
beliefs about violence in this unique setting will help establish their
The Present Study
This study focuses on the role of contemporary war exposure on
civilian moral beliefs in a vulnerable country and, drawing on
theories in social psychology and medical sociology, investigates
the understudied, yet important, pathways linking vicarious war
exposure and shifts in moral beliefs about violence (i.e., the level
of violence disapproval). First, it assesses the effects of vicarious
war exposure on moral beliefs. Second, it investigates the effects of
daily stressors and depression as links between war exposure and
moral beliefs. Major stressors such as war exposure may produce
or exacerbate daily stressors as well as the state of depression,
which, in turn, may alter the levels of individual violence disap-
proval (see Figure 1). Finally, it puts these links to the test using a
random household sample of civilians in two major Ukrainian
Overall, this study tests the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1: Higher levels of vicarious war exposure are
associated with weakened moral beliefs (i.e., lower levels of
violence disapproval).
Hypothesis 2: Daily stressors mediate the relationship between
vicarious war exposure and moral beliefs.
Hypothesis 3: Depression mediates the relationship between
vicarious war exposure and moral beliefs.
Hypothesis 4: Daily stressors mediate the relationship between
vicarious war exposure and depression.
Hypothesis 5: Depression mediates the relationship between
daily stressors and moral beliefs.
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Data and Sample
This study employs survey data collected from respondents in
two large Ukrainian cities, Kharkiv and Lviv, in 2017 using a
multistage stratied random sampling. The study was reviewed and
approved by the U.S. university Institutional Review Boards.
SOCIOINFORM: Center for Sociological Research, a Ukrainian
research organization with an extensive record of conducting sur-
veys for many international organizations including United Nations,
collected the data. The survey instrument contains items validated in
prior survey of adults in Ukraine conducted by SOCIOINFORM
(e.g., see Antonaccio et al., 2017;Antonaccio & Tittle, 2008) as well
surveys in other cross-national locations (e.g., Hobfoll et al., 2006).
The questionnaire was written in English, translated into Ukrainian
and Russian, and then back translated into English by linguists uent
in these languages. Finally, the survey was pretested with 50 Lviv
and 50 Kharkiv residents and revised based on those pretests. The
procedures used to obtain our nal sample are explained below.
Each city was mapped into neighborhoods dened as at least two
parallel or perpendicular streets with a shared playground or similar
area, grocery store, and access to public transportation (70 in Lviv
and 83 in Kharkiv). These neighborhoods were also perceived by
residents to be separate residential areas and informally identied by
specic names (e.g., Roganin Kharkiv or Pidzamchein Lviv).
This approach is consistent with the denition of a neighborhood as
a geographical and social subsection of a larger community where
residents share a common sense of identity that persists over time
(Bursik & Grasmick, 1993). Twenty-six neighborhoods in Lviv and
26 neighborhoods in Kharkiv were randomly sampled. Next, eligi-
ble houses and apartments from these 52 neighborhoods were
randomly selected utilizing a stratied two-stage selection proce-
dure, in which, rst, street routes within each neighborhood were
randomly selected; and second, along each street route, households
were randomly selected (between 23 and 30 in each neighborhood).
This multistage neighborhood-clustered sampling procedure has
been validated in previous research in Ukraine (e.g., Antonaccio
et al., 2017). Within each sampled household, one adult (18 years
and older) whose birthday was closest to the date of the interview
was selected to participate in the survey. Respondents received
modest nancial incentives for their participation. Altough most
data from respondents were elicited with face-to-face condential
interviews, certain sensitive questions including those on moral
beliefs were self-administered and sealed in envelopes by respon-
dents being a few feet away from interviewers.
The nal sample consisted of 616 respondents in Lviv and 631 in
Kharkiv (n=1,247 total). As is common in household surveys,
selected respondents who could not be interviewed were randomly
replaced. The household replacement rate was generally comparable
to those of other random sample household surveys conducted in
Ukraine (e.g., Antonaccio et al., 2017;Antonaccio & Tittle, 2008).
Reassuring of the representativeness of the samples, all the major
demographic characteristics of our samples, including gender, age,
and marital status, are similar to those of the populations of
respective cities (State Statistics Committee of Ukraine, 2018;
see Appendix A). Only 3% of cases had some missing data allowing
us to use listwise deletion resulting in a nal analytic sample size
of 1,211.
Dependent Variable
The index of moral beliefs about violence includes survey items
asking about the acceptability of different types of interpersonal
violent behaviors such as hitting another person on purpose in an
emotional outburst and physically harming or threatening to harm
another person on purpose (see Antonaccio & Tittle, 2008;Brauer &
Tittle, 2017 for similar measures). In addition, the index includes
three survey items assessing respondentsviews on political vio-
lence, placing moral attitudes in the context of war and political
conict, and tapping the degree to which civilians nd political
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Figure 1
Theoretical Model Representing the Relationship Between Vicarious War Exposure, Daily Stressors, Depression,
and Moral Beliefs
violence acceptable (see Hobfoll et al., 2006;Johnson et al., 2009;
Pedahzur et al., 2000 for similar measures). They include statements
on the acceptability of the use of weapons, physical assault on
politicians, and physical violence by the government toward its own
citizens (see Appendix B for the list of items). The response
categories for all ve items were coded in the same direction
with higher index scores indicating higher intolerance or disap-
proval of violence (i.e., stronger moral beliefs).
Our choice of morality index combining interpersonal and politi-
cal violence items was guided by both theoretical and empirical
reasons. Theoretically, it is critical to account for the social context
when creating morality-related measures (see Ferguson et al., 1994).
In the context of war in vulnerable countries, such as Ukraine, moral
beliefs about interpersonal violence may not be particularly distinct
from moral beliefs about political violence. Ukrainians have com-
mon distrust and negative emotions toward their own and other
governments, courts, politicians as well as individuals who oppose
their certain views (Cancio et al., 2020;Korostelina, 2008;Trochev,
2010). This overarching distrust and negative attitudes make
personal politicaland are likely shaped by the long history of
conict with Russia and neighboring countries, the disagreements
among individuals from different regions of Ukraine including the
language conict, and subsequent historical trauma [i.e., trauma
passed through generations] (Cancio et al., 2020;Judah, 2016).
Further, we conducted factor analyses to corroborate our decision to
construct a measure encompassing both attitudes toward interper-
sonal and political violence. The principle component analyses
revealed that all factor loadings on a xed-single factor were
high (above .6), which is well above the acceptable threshold
(Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007). This index also had a high reliability
of .7 supporting our decision to use the combined index in the
context of these analyses.
Independent Variables
Vicarious War Exposure. Because most civilians are exposed
to war vicariously and research has recently underscored the impor-
tance of addressing detrimental vicarious events as a unique form of
trauma (Cougle et al., 2012;Johnson et al., 2017), we constructed an
additive index comprised of multiple types of vicarious war expo-
sure. They include the frequency of hearing accounts, witnessing
media portrayal, or reading about violence related to the Crimea and
Donbas armed conict (see Pfefferbaum et al., 2001 for similar
measures). Response categories range from 1 (never)to4(many
times; see Appendix B for the list of items). Cumulative indices
representing factors related to such life events are not expected to
have internal homogeneity (Hobfoll et al., 2009) because experienc-
ing one kind of exposure or life event does not necessarily mean that
another kind will occur.
Daily Stressors. Following prior research (Almeida et al.,
2002;Keles et al., 2016), we created an additive index including
12 survey items tapping various stressors Ukrainian residents
experience in their everyday life. Those daily stressors include
nancial, work, and family concerns, being affected by rude beha-
viors as well as stressors specically occurring because of the
Donbas conict (see Appendix B for the list of items). Responses
were recoded to range from 1 (never)to5(very often) and summed
into a cumulative index with higher scores indicating more daily
stressors (α=.8).
Depression. Depression is an established measure operationa-
lized as a 9-item additive scale of depression symptoms (Kroenke
et al., 2001). Respondents were asked about the extent to which,
during the past 2 weeks, they had been bothered by certain problems
including little interest or pleasure in doing things; feeling low,
depressed, or hopeless; trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping
too much; and feeling bad about themselves (see Appendix B for the
list of items). Response categories range from 1 (not at all)to4(a
very great degree), with higher scores indicating higher levels of
depression (α=.8).
Control Variables
Following prior research in Ukraine, we incorporated several
control variables indicative of individual social positions and ante-
cedent or related to the examined concepts (Antonaccio & Tittle,
2008;Antonaccio et al., 2017).These variables include age (in years)
and a series of dummy variables as follows: gender (female; male
reference group); ethnicity (Russian; Other; Ukrainianreference
group); city (Lviv; Kharkivreference group); marital status (mar-
ried; living with a partner, divorced/widowed/separated; single
reference group); and employment status (employed full-time; not
employed full-timereference group). We also included the level of
respondents education measured on the scale from 1 (incomplete
secondary) to 6 (graduate degree). Finally, we measured personal
religiosity by asking about the extent to which respondents consider
themselves religious ranging from 1 (not religious at all)to5(very
religious). Descriptive statistics for all variables are displayed in
Table 1.
Analytic Strategy
We conducted a series of ordinary least squares (OLS) regression
analyses in STATA software to test the relationships between
vicarious war exposure, daily stressors, depressive symptoms,
and moral beliefs about violence (the dependent variable is rela-
tively normally distributed). In all models, standard errors were
adjusted for clustering by neighborhoods. No multicollinearity was
detected in any of the models (all variance ination factors [VIFs]
were <2.3). Further, we followed the steps discussed by Baron and
Kenny (1986) to test the mediating effects of daily stressors and
depressive symptoms. The specic steps we took for each of the
mediating paths are described in the Results section. Further, to
evaluate whether mediating effects are signicant, we used the test
of mediation employing the KHB method developed by Karlson,
Holm, and Breen (Karlson & Holm, 2011). This method permits
empirical assessment of the relative magnitudes and signicance of
direct and indirect effects. In addition, the Hayes PROCESS method
was used to corroborate the results on mediating effects (Hayes,
2017). Conducting additional mediation tests permitted to further
specify our models and overcome certain challenges related to
Baron and Kennys approach (see Hayes, 2009 for more details).
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We conducted additional factor analyses to verify empirically that
vicarious exposure and daily stressors are distinct concepts. Both the rotated
and unrotated principal component factor analyses showed that the four
vicarious exposure items formed a single component, whereas the 12 daily
stressorsitemsseparate component. These analyses support the premise
that, consistent with the stress process paradigm, war exposure and daily
stressors are distinct theoretical constructs.
Finally, to account for potential differences based on the respon-
dentslocation, we examined whether there were any differences
between Lviv and Kharkiv using interaction terms incorporating city
in each of our models. We found no signicant differences by city
and, consistent with prior research that focused on similar samples
(see Antonaccio et al., 2017), we chose to present our ndings from
a merged sample controlling for a city of residence.
Table 1 reveals that an average respondent is an ethnic Ukrainian,
married, 46 years old, attended some college, and is moderately
religious. Females constitute 56% of the sample. Further, our sample
is, on average, characterized by mild depression (the score is about
6.3 when rescaling to Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).
Next, bivariate correlations show signicant negative correlations
between our main independent variables (vicarious war exposure,
daily stressors, and depressive symptoms) and moral beliefs about
violence (see Appendix C).
Model 1 in Table 2 presents regression coefcients evaluating the
direct effect of vicarious war exposure on moral beliefs. Overall, the
results demonstrate support for Hypothesis 1. Vicarious war expo-
sure weakens moral beliefs about violence among Ukrainian civi-
lians. Specically, 1-unit increase in vicarious war exposure
produces .147 units decrease in moral beliefs, CI [.276, .018].
As to effects of other variables, women, older, and married or
divorced/widowed/separated people have signicantly stronger
moral beliefs about violence than men, younger, and single people,
respectively. Finally, Lviv residents score signicantly lower on
moral beliefs than Kharkiv residents.
To investigate the mediation effects, we, rst, illustrate the
signicant link between vicarious war exposure and mediating
variables (Baron & Kenny, 1986). Relevant gures shown in Table 3
reveal that vicarious war exposure is signicantly related to both
mediators, daily stressors, b=.811; p<.001; CI [.532, 1.090], and
depressive symptoms, b=.209; p<.01; CI [.060, .359], in the
expected direction (Table 3, Models 1 and 2). Specically, higher
levels of vicarious war exposure correspond to higher levels of daily
stressors, and higher levels of vicarious war exposure correspond to
higher levels of depressive symptoms, net of all controls. In addi-
tion, results reveal that women report higher levels of daily stressors
and depressive symptoms than men. Furthermore, compared to their
counterparts, those who are married and have higher levels of
education are signicantly less likely to be depressed. Finally,
respondents of Russian ethnicity are signicantly less likely to be
depressed than Ukrainians (Table 3, Model 3).
Next, we assess whether mediators are signicantly related to
moral beliefs. Model 2 in Table 2 displays the results from the
regression models estimating the effect of daily stressors on moral
beliefs about violence. Daily stressors are signicantly related to
moral beliefs about violence in the expected direction. Higher levels
of exposure to daily stressors correspond to weaker moral beliefs,
b=.132; p<.001; CI [.179, .085]. Model 3 in Table 2 shows a
negative relationship between depression and moral beliefs about
violence, with the regression coefcient indicating that higher levels
of depressive symptoms correspond to lower levels of moral beliefs,
b=.175; p<.001; CI [.241, .108].
Finally, we present the results illustrating the effects of vicarious
war exposure and mediators on moral beliefs (Table 2, Models 24).
Model 2 shows the effect of vicarious war exposure on moral beliefs
about violence when daily stressors are included, Model 3 shows the
effect of vicarious war exposure on moral beliefs about violence
when depression is included, and Model 4 shows the effect of
vicarious war exposure on moral beliefs about violence with both
daily stressors and depressive symptoms included. Overall, we can
observe a decrease in coefcients of vicarious war exposure when
mediators are included in the model. These gures show that, once
the measure of daily stressors is included, the coefcient for
vicarious war exposure decreases from .147 (Model 1) to
.040 (Model 2; Hypothesis 2). When depressive symptoms are
included, the coefcient for vicarious war exposure decreases from
.147 (Model 1) to .111 (Model 3; Hypothesis 3). When both
mediators are included in the model, the coefcient for vicarious war
exposure decreases from .147 (Model 1) to .043 (Model 4).
Moreover, the coefcient for vicarious war exposure loses signi-
cance in each of the models when the mediators are included,
suggesting full mediation through these intervening pathways. As
to the effects of control variables, when daily stressors and depres-
sive symptoms are accounted for, higher levels of moral beliefs are
found among females, older people, married, divorced/widowed/
separated, and those with higher levels of religiosity and from
We used the same method to assess whether daily stressors
mediate the relationship between vicarious war exposure and
depression (Hypothesis 4) and whether depressive symptoms medi-
ate the relationship between daily stressors and moral beliefs
(Hypothesis 5). The gures from Models 2 and 4 in Table 3
show that the signicant effect of vicarious war exposure in Model
2 becomes nonsignicant in Model 4 when the measure of daily
stressors is included providing support for Hypothesis 4. Further-
more, the gures from Models 2 and 4 in Table 2 show a decreased
effect of the measure of daily stressors when depressive symptoms
are incorporated providing support for Hypothesis 5. Results from
regression analyses illustrated in Tables 2 and 3are also summarized
in Figure 2.
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Table 1
Descriptive Statistics of Independent and Dependent Variables
(N =1,211)
Variable MSDMin Max
Moral beliefs 19.973 3.682 8 25
Vicarious war exposure 10.706 2.570 4 16
Daily stressors 28.938 7.349 12 58
Depression 15.291 4.674 9 36
Female .557 .497 0 1
Age 45.547 17.304 18 94
Ukrainian (ref) .870 .337 0 1
Russian .106 .308 0 1
Other .025 .155 0 1
Single (ref) .208 .406 0 1
Married .522 .500 0 1
Living with a partner .038 .191 0 1
Divorced/widowed/separated .232 .422 0 1
Education 3.842 1.227 1 6
Religiosity 3.191 .955 1 5
Employed .496 .500 0 1
Lviv .495 .500 0 1
Next, in support of Hypothesis 2, results from the KHB mediation
analyses presented in Model 1a, Table 4, show that daily stressors
produce the largest mediating effect (61% mediated between vicari-
ous war exposure and moral beliefs). Depressive symptoms fail to
signicantly mediate the link between vicarious war exposure and
moral beliefs when daily stressors are included as a covariate, thus
not conrming the support for Hypothesis 3 (Model 2a). Yet, as
shown in Model 3a, when both daily stressors and depression are
included in the model, they account for 56% and 15% of the
mediated effect of war exposure on moral beliefs, respectively.
Finally, daily stressors mediate the effect of vicarious war exposure
on depression (Model 4a) and depression mediates the effect of daily
stressors on moral beliefs about violence (Model 5a). Next, we
estimated the Hayes PROCESS mediation models (Hayes, 2017)to
corroborate our nding on the proposed mediating links. Overall,
results from these models shown in Table 4 conrm all ndings
supported by the KHB mediation analyses. Moreover, they reveal
that the effect of vicarious exposure on moral beliefs is serially
mediated by daily stressors and depression with three relevant
mediation pathways (one serial and two simple) reported in Models
3b, 4b, and 5b, respectively. The gures from Model 3b conrm that
the indirect pathway of the effect of vicarious war exposure on
morality via serial mediation (vicarious war exposure daily
stressors depression moral beliefs) is signicant. Along
with one signicant indirect effect mediated only via daily stressors
(Model 1b), these pathways fully account for the any signicant
impact of vicarious war exposure on moral beliefs, with the direct
effect no longer signicant.
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Table 2
Regression Coefcients Representing the Direct Effects of Vicarious War Exposure, Daily Stressors, and Depression on Moral Beliefs
(N =1,211)
Independent variable Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4
Vicarious war exposure .147*.040 .111 .043
[.276, .018]
[.173, .092]
[.232, .011]
[.172, .085]
Daily stressors .132*** .101***
[.179, .085]
[.148, .054]
Depression ——
.175*** .107**
[.241, .108]
[.171, .042]
Female 1.043*** 1.227*** 1.180*** 1.268***
[.661, 1.425]
[.867, 1.587]
[.799, 1.561]
[.904, 1.631]
Age .027*** .023*** .028*** .025***
[.014, .040]
[.010, .036]
[.015, .042]
[.012, .038]
Russian .120
[.606, .846] [.742, .740] [.724, .686] [.778, .663]
Other .586 .343 .539 .371
[.500, 1.672]
[.709, 1.395]
[.643, 1.720]
[.732, 1.475]
Married .676*.709*.545 .621*
[.036, 1.316]
[.129, 1.289]
[.061, 1.151]
[.040, 1.202]
Living with a partner .026 .105 .128 .149
[.952, .899]
[.955, .745]
[.959, .702]
[.966, .668]
Divorced/widowed/separated .793*
[.135, 1.451] [.197, 1.443] [.059, 1.318] [.129, 1.369]
Education .119 .092 .066 .066
[.090, .329]
[.101, .285]
[.135, .268]
[.127, .259]
Religiosity .237 .284*.287*.304**
[.011, .485]
[.054, .514]
[.064, .511]
[.085, .523]
Employed .306 .282 .286 .275
[.793, .182]
[.726, .162]
[.723, .151]
[.702, .151]
Lviv 1.406** 1.671*** 1.485*** 1.657***
[2.224, .589]
[2.435, .907]
[2.229, .742]
[2.384, .930]
.129 .192 .177 .206
Note. Unstandardized coefcient; standard errors in parentheses; 95% condence intervals.
*p<.05. ** p<.01. *** p<.001; two-tailed.
Finally, because our index of daily stressors includes Donbas
conict-specic items, which can possibly inate the estimates of
the relevant mediating effect, we reestimated our model excluding
these war-related items from the measure of daily stressors. The
results including the index containing only non-war-related stressors
were consistent with our main ndings (available upon request).
Our study addresses an important detrimental consequence of war
exposureerosion of moral beliefs among civilians occurring amid
an ongoing war in Ukraine. Although civilians might not be directly
exposed to war events, consistent with past research (Cairns, 1990;
Cairns et al., 1980;Hopwood & Schutte, 2017;Kira et al., 2008),
our results suggest that vicarious war exposure including watching
war-related news and hearing about war may have harmful effects
on peoples lives. Further, our study contributes to the literature by
illustrating the link between vicarious war exposure and moral
beliefs about violence in the Ukrainian context. Lviv and Kharkiv,
the two cities examined in this research, are not currently directly
exposed to the military conict. However, their residents are
repeatedly exposed to war by frequently watching news, browsing
the internet, and hearing the accounts of veterans and others
returning from war and moving to these cities from the Donbas
war zone. The war events in Ukraine are also accompanied by
interpersonal tensions based on language differences, heightened
emotions, misunderstanding, pain, and trauma (Cancio et al., 2020;
Judah, 2016). In this environment, individuals residing in Ukraine
may develop lower levels of moral beliefs about violence and
perceive violence as a defense mechanism against the harmful
actions of others. These ndings show that the war context may
promote moral disengagement, and thus support the theoretical
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Table 3
Regression Coefcients Representing the Effect of Vicarious War Exposure on Daily Stressors and Depression, and Daily Stressors on
Depression (N =1,211)
Independent variable
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4
Daily stressors Depression Depression Depression
Vicarious war exposure .811*** .209** .026
[.532, 1.090]
[.060, .359]
[.135, .083]
Daily stressors ——
.288*** .290***
[.244, .332]
[.246, .335]
Female 1.397** .786*.395 .380
[.523, 2.269]
[.187, 1.384]
[.153, .943]
[.183, .943]
Age .028 .010 .018 .018
[.064, .008]
[.013, .033]
[.003, .039]
[.003, .040]
Russian .917
[2.172, .339] [1.559, .037] [1.241, .179] [1.242, .178]
Other 1.843*.271 .264 .265
[3.674, .012]
[1.963, 1.421]
[1.473, 2.001]
[1.474, 2.003]
Married .250 .752*.831*.824*
[.911, 1.412]
[1.502, .002
[1.492, .171]
[1.472, .176]
Living with a partner .597 .585 .429 .411
[2.950, 1.757]
[1.887, .718]
[1.439, .581]
[1.404, .581]
Divorced/widowed/separated .201
[1.553, 1.955] [1.746, .546] [1.666, .334] [1.650, .332]
Education .207 .303*.246*.243*
[.564, .150]
[.577, .029]
[.468, .023]
[.467, .019]
Religiosity .358 .288 .179 .184
[.137, .853]
[.003, .578]
[.106, .464]
[.107, .475]
Employed .180 .114 .053 .062
[.907, 1.268]
[.551, .780]
[.461, .568]
[.449, .572]
Lviv 2.005*.451 .100 .132
[3.844, .167]
[1.459, .558]
[.675, .875]
[.644, .908]
.094 .034 .223 .223
Note. Unstandardized coefcients; standard errors in parentheses; 95% condence intervals.
*p<.05. ** p<.01. *** p<.001; two-tailed.
premises of Bandura (1999). These results also add to the body of
literature, which suggests the importance of addressing different
aspects of moral beliefs, moral development, and moral reasoning of
those who have been exposed to violent conicts (DiPietro, 2019;
Drescher et al., 2011;Elbedour et al., 1997;Ferguson & Cairns,
1996;Ferrajão & Oliveira, 2015a,2015b).
Further our ndings shed light on complex processes underlying
the relationship between war exposure and moral beliefs and
uncover important mediators of this relationship. First, consistent
with prior research (Miller & Rasmussen, 2010;Pearlin & Johnson,
1977), we nd a signicant direct effect of daily stressors on mental
health. Second, we add to the literature by illustrating that daily
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Figure 2
Regression Coefcients Representing the Effects of Vicarious War Exposure on Daily Stressors, Depression, and
Moral Beliefs
Note. This gure illustrates coefcients from Model 4, Table 2 and Models 13, Table 3; solid lines indicate signicant effects
and dashed linesnonsignicant.
Table 4
Results of Mediation Analyses: KHB Test and Hayes PROCESS Model (N =1,211)
Mediation Models
a. KHB Model
1a. Vicarious war exposure
daily stressors moral
2a. Vicarious war
exposure depression
moral beliefs
3a. Vicarious war exposure
daily stressors and depression
moral beliefs
4a. Vicarious war
exposure daily
stressors depression
5a. Daily stressors
moral beliefs
Daily stressors .068***
Depression .003
b. Hayes PROCESS Model (5,000 bootstrap samples)
1b. Vicarious war exposure
daily stressors moral
2b. Vicarious war
exposure depression
moral beliefs
3b. Vicarious war exposure
daily stressors depression
moral beliefs
4b. Vicarious war
exposure daily
stressors depression
5b. Daily stressors
moral beliefs
Daily stressors .068***
Depression .003
*p<.05. ** p<.01. *** p<.001; two-tailed.
stressors serve as an important intervening link between vicarious
war exposure and depression among civilians in Ukraine. Third, our
results demonstrate that daily stressors fully mediate the relationship
between vicarious war exposure and moral beliefs about violence. It
is possible that vicarious war exposure affects some aspects of moral
beliefs of citizens because it creates and exacerbates difcult life
situations and proliferates strain producing high levels of uncer-
tainty. In this research, constant stressors, including nancial pro-
blems, concerns about the war, discrimination, and other issues,
appear to further normalize the use of violence.
Next, our results support the theoretical arguments positing that
people who report more depressive symptoms are more likely to
perceive violent acts as morally acceptable. It is important to position
this nding in the unique context of Ukraine. Historically, the
relationship between Ukraine and Russia has been very complex.
Although Ukrainians often perceived Russia as the brother country,
they have also been negatively affected by Russias anti-Ukrainian
policies and actions (Cancio et al., 2020;Judah, 2016). The most
recent war in Ukraine has further exacerbated the situation, and thus it
is understandable that a signicant number of people livingin Ukraine
are particularly prone to depression, which affects their moral beliefs.
Furthermore, consistent with our theoretical expectations, we nd
that those who experience high levels of daily stressors are more
likely to become depressed, which further leads to lower levels of
moral beliefs about violence. These results advance the past research
that hinted at complex mechanisms underlying the relationships
between vicarious war exposure and shifts in morality by uncover-
ing different pathways that can provide explanations of how vicari-
ous war exposure affects mental health and moral beliefs. This
studysndings also conrm the usefulness of incorporating value-
related concepts, different types of moral values in particular, to
better understand the complex stress process among individuals
exposed to traumatic events such as war and experiencing different
stressors (Pearlin, 1988,1989).
Taken together, the ndings of this study have important policy
implications. Because vicarious war exposure can be intrusive and
affect the moral compass of civilian populations, there need to be more
nuanced peacemaking strategies focused on preventing the erosion of
moral beliefs in vulnerable populations. Designing these successful
interventions requires an in-depth focus on the processes underlying the
war-morality relationship. First, because the proliferation and exacer-
bation of daily stressors is an important pathway to reduced moral
beliefs, policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders need to work
in tandem to design programs to reduce these stressors among civilians.
Such efforts may involve stress management counseling helping war-
affected people manage their everyday problems including economic
strain, family conict, etc. There is also an urgent need to help
vulnerable civilians cope with depression resulting from war exposure.
Importantly, the delivery of mental health services is not well devel-
oped in Ukraine, and Ukrainians often distrust and feel stigmatized by
mental health professionals (Roberts et al., 2019). Thus, the govern-
ment and health care agencies should collaborate with different
international organizations to improve mental health care in Ukraine
and provide civilians with more information and necessary coping
resources to address their mental health.
However, this study is not without its limitations. First, we use
cross-sectional data making it difcult to rmly establish the causal
ordering. Therefore, we focus on theoretically important associations
between levels of our independent and dependent variables as
opposed to establishing causality. Yet, we are generally condent
about the time-order of our variables for several reasons. First, the
proposed relationships are theoretically sound and reasonable in the
context of our data. Second, the results strongly support our model
and, to further conrm their robustness, we tested a nonrecusive
model for effects involving the mediating variables. These results
support our fully recursive theoretical model with depression and
daily stressors as intervening links between vicarious war exposure
and moral beliefs about violence (available upon request). Further-
more, we focused on two cities only vicariously affected by war. This
may underestimate the effect of war, as studies have shown that those
who experience direct war exposure have a very high likelihood of
moral injury (e.g., Ferrajão & Oliveira, 2015a,2015b). Finally, self-
report data may be prone to exaggeration, telescoping, or withholding
information. However, to avoid bias, questions known to be of
sensitive nature (e.g., moral acceptability of violent acts) were
self-administered by the respondents, which has been shown to
improve the accuracy of the information provided.
Despite these limitations, this study signicantly contributes to
the extant literature by proposing pathways connecting vicarious
war exposure to moral attitudes among civilians in a war-torn
country. Those who are exposed to war events, even vicariously,
experience the exacerbation of daily stressors and further become
depressed, which, in turn, lowers their disapproval of violence. As,
such to promote peace and health of the communities, we need to
target those important stress and health-related links. Moreover, our
study hints on the importance of placing war exposure and moral
beliefs in their unique historical and social contexts, which is
consistent with prior literature recognizing the role of culture in
shaping war trauma (Kwon, 2012).
Overall, our study moves the eld forward by showing the
importance of developing integrative approaches to better address
the unique consequences of wars and violent conicts in different
sociocultural contexts. We emphasize that war can demoralize the
nation by changing peoples attitudes and beliefs, which can take
place through various pathways reecting daily life and mental
health. Research in sociology, criminology, social psychology, and
other elds should pay closer attention to different aspects of moral
beliefs and the meanings of such beliefs. Further development of the
theoretical understanding of different dimensions of moral beliefs
and related concepts as well as necessary interventions, including
those addressing mental health, may help reduce societal support for
ongoing violence. Importantly, future studies can elaborate on and
test other aspects of the stress process such as the role of ones social
background (e.g., gender, ethnicity) in the relationships between
war exposure and moral beliefs. Fear, distrust, and guilt in the
context of war and similar environments could be also some unique
concepts to explore in the future as these concepts have been shown
to change moral cognition and affect other aspects of moral beliefs
(Weiss et al., 2018). In addition, future research should explore the
relationships between war exposure and various aspects of morality
drawing on different approaches. For example, future studies should
focus on the neo-Kohlbergian approach to explore how violent
conicts shape different schemas related to moral judgment includ-
ing personal interest and maintaining norms (Mechler & Thoma,
2013). In addition, considering the expansive impact of violent
conicts and other forms of violence on civilians around the world,
future studies should conduct more cross-national and comparative
analyses of effects of various vital events including police brutality,
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terrorist attacks, violent political acts, and violence in various social
institutions on moral beliefs.
Another important avenue for future research is considering how
and why war exposure not only leads to the justication of violence,
but to actual violent behaviors among different groups. Making steps
in this direction, a recent study of combatants by Castano et al. (2020)
illustrates the link between conict-related victimization and viola-
tions of international humanitarian law including violent actions in
different countries. This nding is also consistent with the extant
literature in criminology (see Agnew, 2006), which suggests that
major life stressors can lead to violence, largely because they create an
array of negative emotions that individuals desire to xvia criminal
and violent behavior. Further, as pointed by Castano et al. (2020),itis
important to address different mediating and moderating mechanisms
(e.g., combatant status, knowledge of the law, self-justication
processes) to better explain the relationship between victimization,
past violations of law, and future intentions to violate the law. As
individuals who self-justify the demonization of the enemy are more
likely to violate the law (Castano et al., 2020), it is also important to
further link war-related experiences, justication of various violent
actions toward others, and future violent behavior.
Notably, not all individuals who justify and tolerate violence will
engage in violent behavior themselves. As stated by Antonaccio and
Tittle (2008),there is no necessary correspondence between what
people say about the moral acceptability to them of various acts and
what they actually do(p. 491). As such, it is critical for future
studies to better understand under which conditions demoralization
will lead to further violent behaviors among civilians and comba-
tants. To accomplish this, there is a need for more interdisciplinary
approaches integrating perspectives in social psychology and crim-
inology to provide a comprehensive explanation of how and why
exposure to war leads to demoralization and violent behavior. For
example, violence becomes more justied largely due to the belief
that it serves certain important purposes (Bandura, 1999), and
violent behavior can be a result of social learning processes
(Akers, 1998;Bandura & McClelland, 1977), where individuals
exposed to war learn denitions favorable to violence. By drawing
on and integrating social psychological and criminological perspec-
tives, we can address how peoples perceptions and attitudes as well
as moral and immoral exemplars during the time of war shape
violence. This, in turn, will allow us to develop more nuanced
policies and programs aimed at reducing the erosion of moral beliefs
as well as violent behavior in war-torn social contexts.
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Appendix A
Sample and Census Characteristics
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Table A1
Sample and Census Population Demographic Characteristics
Individual characteristics
Lviv, Ukraine Kharkiv, Ukraine Both cities (average)
Sample Census Sample Census Sample Census
% female 55 54 56 54 55.5 54
%1829 22 25 21 26 21.5 25.5
%3039 20 18 24 18 22 18
%4049 17 20 17 19 17 19.5
%5059 15 15 13 14 14 14.5
%6094 26 22 25 23 25.5 22.5
Marital status
% married/cohabitating 65 63 48 58 56.5 60.5
% divorced/widowed separated 16 18 29 24 22.5 21
% single 19 19 23 18 21 18.5
The most recent census gures on gender are from 2017.
The most recent census gures on age are from 2001.
The most recent census gures on marital
status are on urban settlements of Lviv and Kharkiv regions in 2001.
(Appendices continue)
Appendix B
Survey Items
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Table B1
Moral Beliefs, Vicarious War Exposure, Daily Stressors, and Depression Survey Items
Survey item Response categories
Moral beliefs
Please estimate the extent to which committing each of these acts would be morally acceptable to
1. Hit another person on purpose in an emotional outburst.
2. Physically harm or threatened to harm another person on purpose.
To what extent to you agree with the following statements?
3. There are situations where there is no other alternative and even weapons must be used in
order to stop the government from carrying out its policies.
4. When a political disaster is looming on the horizon, and all other means of protest have
been exhausted and proved futile, physical assault on politicians may be forgivable.
5. When taking into account the bad political situation to which we have come, physical
violence by the government toward citizens is understandable.
1. Always acceptable
2. Usually acceptable
3. Sometime acceptable, sometime unacceptable
4. Usually unacceptable
5. Always unacceptable
1. Strongly agree
2. Agree
3. Neither agree nor disagree
4. Disagree
5. Strongly disagree
Vicarious war exposure
1. How often have you witnessed media portrayal or read about violence related to the
Donbass armed conict?
2. How often have you heard accounts of violence related to the Donbass armed conict from
somebody else you know?
3. How often have you witnessed media portrayal or read about political persecution in
4. How often have you experienced yourself and/or heard accounts of political persecution in
Crimea from somebody else you know?
1. Never
2. Once
3. Few times
4. Many times
Daily stressors
Recently, how often have you experienced the following types of daily hassles?
1. Concerns about making ends meet
2. Other nancial concerns
3. Having to bribe somebody
4. Problems with your family members
5. Problems at work/study place (if respondent is a student)
6. Getting into arguments (besides those with people already mentioned)
7. Some rude behavior around you (smokers, who do not care about people around them,
people who push you in a bus etc.)
8. Concerns about the Donbas war situation (worries about victims of the Donbass conict,
problems with the inux of migrants from other parts of Ukraine etc.)
9. Prejudice and discrimination from others because of the Donbass conict
10. Prejudice and discrimination from others on any other basis
11. Not enough time to do the things you need to do
12. Other daily hassles like any of those listed above (list them)
1. Never
2. Rarely
3. Sometimes
4. Often
5. Very often
Please mention to what extent each one of them bothered you in the last 2 weeks.
1. Little interest or pleasure in doing things
2. Feeling low, depressed or hopeless
3. Trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much
4. Feeling tired or having little energy
5. Poor appetite or overeating
6. Feeling bad about yourselfor that you are a failure or have let yourself or your
family down
7. Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television
8. Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed. Or the oppositebeing
so dgety or restless that you have been movingaroundalotmorethanusual
9. Thoughts that you would be better off dead, or hurting yourself in some way
1. Not at all
2. To a small degree
3. To a great degree
4. To a very great degree
(Appendices continue)
Appendix C
Correlations Between Variables
Received June 22, 2021
Revision received December 23, 2021
Accepted January 13, 2022
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Table C1
Bivariate Correlations (N =1,211)
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1. Moral
2. Vicarious
3. Daily
.250** .247**
4. Depression .211** .099** .456**
5. Female .192** .085** .069*.070*
6. Age .190** .026 .052 .019 .081**
7. Ukrainian .095** .064*.063*.051 .045 .222**
8. Russian .089** .065*.046 .050 .064*.225** .888**
9. Other .030 .009 .046 .012 .029 .036 .412** .055
10. Single .143** .075** .008 .026 .128** .452** .090** .097** .003
11. Married .011 .084** .009 .040 .036 .092** .042 .037 .018 .536**
12. Living with
a partner
.050 .026 .005 .002 .004 .101** .039 .040 .004 .102** .208**
13. Divorced/
.147** .039 .000 .024 .164** .372** .153** .155** .026 .282** .574** .109**
14. Education .004 .065*.018 .078** .056 .098** .002 .024 .042 .027 .095** .001 .087**
15. Religiosity .042 .138** .068*.078** .159** .087** .134** .139** .015 .141** .119** .058*.021 .026
16. Employed .143** .105** .026 .015 .201** .296** .095** .089** .031 .040 .061*.053 .135** .120** .051
17. Lviv .200** .261** .046 .006 .003 .016 .153** .163** .009 .056*.178** .007 .154** .102** .264** .097**
*p<.05. ** p<.01; two-tailed.
... The study by Timmer, Johnson, Antonaccio, Botchkovar (2022). illustrates the need for appropriate mental health services, stress management, and other critical interventions to help populations experiencing war and other traumatic occurrences. ...
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More than three hundred different theories of psychosomatic diseases are known, but none of them is fundamental. Preference is given to systemic theories, which consider the role of several factors in their occurrence, including personal characteristics of the patient, features of the psychotraumatic factor, heredity, etc. (Voloshyn, 2008). Despite a significant number of works devoted to the problems of psychosomatics, there is no single concept of psychosomatic disease and, in connection with this, etiopathogenetic psychotherapy, insufficiently developed approaches to early diagnosis, organization of psychoprophylactic measures, psychotherapeutic correction for specific diseases. Until now, the question of the impact on the internal picture of the disease and the quality of life of the form and severity of the disease, as well as the psychophysiological features, age, gender, and social status of the patient remains open. According to various authors, the frequency of psychosomatic disorders ranges from 30% to 57% of the total number of patients in the primary medical network and ranges from 11% to 52% in the general population (Maruta, 2010). Psychosomatic diseases are secondary functional and organic disorders of internal organs and systems, the root cause of which are psychogenic factors. Somatopsychic diseases are mental disorders that develop secondary to somatic ailments that do not affect the brain. Somatoform disorders are psychogenic functional disorders of organs in which no morphological or structural disorders of these organs are observed. Psychosomatics is an interdisciplinary scientific direction in which psychological, social, and cultural factors of the occurrence of somatic diseases are studied. Of note is the spread of war-related psychosomatic disorders, including culturally informed care, psychosocial support, language considerations, relationships, and the inclusion of sexual, spiritual, and existential factors, moving away from purely Western diagnoses and treatments to culturally informed care (O'Brien, Charura, 2022). Current research links high levels of traumatic events with increased levels of mental health problems. For example, the postimmigration factor, which includes items related to isolation, restrictive policies, and stressors related to insecure immigration status, was significantly related to PTSD scores (Morgan, Melluish, Welham, 2017). The study by Timmer, Johnson, Antonaccio, Botchkovar (2022). illustrates the need for appropriate mental health services, stress management, and other critical interventions to help populations experiencing war and other traumatic occurrences. It also suggests that future studies should pay particular attention to how vital life events affect individual beliefs and attitudes. In the conditions of a sharp increase in mental and behavioral disorders caused by the Russian invasion, the system of providing psychiatric care and departmental psychological services turned out to be such, at least in the first stages, that the established models of assessment and intervention need to be revised. The issue of mental health and the prevalence of psychosomatic disorders as a population and ethno-cultural phenomenon among Ukrainians in the conditions of a 2022-full-scale Russian invasion was discussed by three Ukrainian psychologists: Dr. Vasyl Mosiichuk, Professor Bohdan Tkach and Professor Vitalii Lunov.
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Wie sich die Welt um uns herum verändert, nehmen wir wohl so wahr, als würde darunter eine Beschleunigungskraft wirken. Die Entwicklung gesellschaftlicher Interaktionen wird von uns Menschen selbst angetrieben. Je mehr sich die eine oder andere Gruppe in eine bestimmte Richtung verhält, umso mehr wirkt das Gruppenverhalten als Entwicklungstendenz. Die technisch vernetzte Welt drängt seit über 20 Jahren in unseren Lebens- und Arbeitsalltag vor. Die fast drei Jahre andauernde Corona- Pandemie hat unter Druck von Kontaktbeschränkungen die Nutzung der technischen Möglichkeiten beschleunigt und damit Arbeitsflexibilität und -mobilität in einer Weise realisiert, wie dies zuvor noch nie der Fall war. Arbeitswelt ist Lebenswelt; und deshalb wirkt sich ein zunehmendes Potenzial an Distanzinteraktionen auf wirtschaftliche, soziale, psychische, rechtliche und/oder kulturelle Bedingungen aus.
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The article presents the results of research on the main individual behavior problems of Ukrainian youth in the conditions of Russian political and military aggression since 2014. Research is aimed at issues of adaptation potential, social and psychological security, psychological health, and well-being of young people from all geographic regions of Ukraine. The concept of “socially determined coping constructs” is proposed and the influence of interpersonal behavior style on the resourcefulness and adaptive potential of youth in the conditions of military operations is determined. Prognostic indicators of young people’s experience of security in the conditions of an unpredictable long-term scenario of military aggression are concise. It has been proved that adaptation potential is a factor of preservation of psychological health that is methodologically considered within the paradigm of humanistic psychology within the range of the concept of resilience, psychological well-being, and personal maturity. Interpersonal behavior can be considered by us as a developed form of interaction of personal genesis and social induced predisposition of a certain objectified relation. Adaptation potential is determined as a social-psychological integral hierarchical-parity formation that ensures homeostasis of mature functioning of personality within the conditions of social stress induced by the activity of adaptation capabilities, their latency, timeliness, correspondence with subjective resources, and vectors of social actualization. There has been an empirical establishment of predictors determining the impact of special features of the style of interpersonal behavior on index of perceived stress, index of coping resources, positive attitude to others, autonomy, environment management, personal development, life goals, self-perception, psychological well-being, inclusion, control, risk acceptance, and resilience. The results of our research became the basis for determination of the phenomenon of interpersonal behavior as predictor of the triad: interpersonal communication, adaptation potential, and psychological health of youth.
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Research has shown that the risk for violent victimisation, including various forms of abuse and sexual violence, is high among individuals forced to leave their homes due to wars, humanitarian emergencies, and violent conflicts. Unfortunately, little is known about such a critical issue as domestic violence within the home, as most research on humanitarian crises covers violence outside the home. Given that the home remains one of the most dangerous places for vulnerable individuals during wartime, it is crucial to address who is most vulnerable to becoming a victim of domestic violence in current war-torn societies such as Ukraine. Further, it is imperative to understand the characteristics of domestic violence at the “intersection” of war and a global pandemic. We use primary, self-reported survey data from an international research project entitled “A Cross-National Study of the Global Pandemic, Deviance and Health” to provide a snapshot of domestic violence in the current Ukrainian society and analyse the characteristics of self-reported domestic violence, both psychological and physical, which has been taking place during the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a global pandemic. Specifically, this study addresses the following research questions: What are the levels of domestic violence (both physical and psychological abuse) when it happens at the time of “intersection” between war and a pandemic? Who is the most likely to become a victim of domestic violence in this unique situation? Results from logistic regression models reveal that, compared to single individuals in Ukraine, people who cohabitate with their partners are at a higher risk of psychological abuse, while being married emerges as a ‘protective’ factor against physical abuse. Additionally, having a higher SES significantly reduces the risk of psychological abuse from an intimate partner. Notably, in contrast with prior research, our results show that males' odds of experiencing physical abuse are higher. Explanations for these unique findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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This essay provides an economic geography perspective on the causes and consequences of the war in eastern Ukraine. It focuses on the controversial proposition that the armed conflict in 2014 was triggered by domestic, economically determined factors. The essay argues that economic and material circumstances in the region had generated neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for a locally rooted, internally driven armed conflict. The role of the Kremlin’s military intervention was paramount for the commencement of hostilities. As the human and economic costs of the war continue to mount, Ukraine’s war-ravaged eastern regions face further depopulation, economic decline and erosion of development.
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Scientific literature is reviewed supporting a “consequence of war syndrome (CWS)” in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn soldiers. CWS constituents include chronic pain and insomnia, other physical complaints, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and neuropsychological deficits. The foundation of CWS lies with the chronic stressors inherent to deployment and the cascade of biological events mediated and maintained by hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation. Such dysregulation is modified by the individual’s specific experiences at war, difficulty reintegrating to post-deployment life, and the onset or exacerbation of the chronic and comorbid physical, emotional, and cognitive disorders. The circuit network between the prefrontal cortex (PFC), amygdala, and hippocampus is particularly sensitive to the consequences of war. The review’s specific conclusions are as follows: HPA axis dysregulation contributes to the chronic insomnia and hyperarousal seen in soldiers. There is considerable symptom overlap between PTSD and blast-related head injury, and it is difficult to determine the relative contributions of the two disorders to abnormal imaging studies. In some cases, traumatic brain injury (TBI) may directly precipitate PTSD symptoms. While not intuitive, the relationship between TBI and postconcussion syndrome appears indirect and mediated through PTSD. Blast-related or conventional head injury may have little long-term impact on neuropsychological functioning; contrarily, PTSD particularly accounts for current cognitive deficits. The psychological experience of CWS includes a “war-within” where soldiers continue to battle an internalized enemy. Successful treatment of CWS entails transdisciplinary care that addresses each of the constituent disorders.
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Understanding historical and cultural dimensions of pain is an area relatively understudied by scholars. This is particularly the case for those affected by war, such as combat veterans. Using in-depth interviews, this study analyses interpretations of the pain by Ukrainian combat veterans serving in the current war in the east of Ukraine. Our findings reveal two core themes that shape meanings of pain: Ukrainian cultural identity and historical trauma. Being Ukrainian is a salient construct, shaped by respondents’ identities as soldiers, nationality, and the understanding of pain as an integral part of Ukrainian soldiers’ identity. Historical trauma is experienced more broadly as a nation and is drawn from shared experiences of pain that transcend through history, as Ukraine has wavered between legitimacy as a sovereign state and colony of a ‘brother-nation’ to Russia.
The current paper examines terrorism as a special form of moralistic violence, with several key features that distinguish such behaviour from other types of violence. The theory of lethal moralism highlights the importance of social polarization, characterized by vast differences in social space and inequality between adversaries as crucial to explaining deadly terrorist attacks. Where the differences are more permanent or chronic – and the groups in question define and justify their existence specifically in contradistinction to ‘other’ groups – then the polarization intensifies and attacks tend to be more lethal. In contrast, groups that appeal to broader audiences or the general public as potential allies more often use non‐lethal terrorism to their strategic advantage. The study examines the United States and the United Kingdom to classify each of more than 8,000 attacks between 1970 and 2017 in terms of their ideological orientations. The evidence highlights the arc of terrorism in relation to different types of groups, as well as confirms the more lethal nature of terrorism linked especially to radical Islam, right‐wing religious extremists, hate groups, ethno‐nationalist sectarian violence, and anti‐government anarchists. Yet apart from the extensive use of terrorism associated with ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, the majority of terrorist attacks in the US and the UK have not produced deaths. Most terrorism instead has been perpetrated by groups aiming to rally support for a general cause and has been far less deadly on balance. The implications of these findings are discussed with a view toward developing more powerful explanatory models that focus on the socio‐cultural contexts and justification frameworks that inspire extremism and the use of lethal moralism to settle disputes.
Despite renewed interest among criminologists in war and genocide, still understudied are the implications of mass violence for human development and behavior over the life course. By drawing on detailed life history data gathered from 55 male Bosnian refugees and nationals, in this work, I examine the shared beginnings of men who experienced the Bosnian war and genocide (1992-1995) in their youth, as well as examine their divergent pathways over time and across two distinct postwar contexts. My findings reveal that violent pathways are shaped by the confluence of social-psychological mechanisms (e.g., the normalization of violence) and exogenous risk factors (e.g., family disruption and loss of male role models). Compared with nonviolent men, who emphasize themes of catharsis and resilience, and the emulation of prosocial models of masculinity, violent men's narratives are distinguished by themes of persecution and exile, the emulation of violent role models, and contextual barriers to attaining valued masculine identities. Beyond the experience of war, these findings have implications for understanding how early experiences of chronic violence and community disruption shape turning points and cultural frames over the life course, and they indicate that studies of violent pathways should grant greater primacy to the social-historical Criminology. 2018;1-31.