Sex Roles, Vol. 54, Nos. 3/4, February 2006 (
Gender Group Differences in Coping with
Chronic Terror: The Israeli Scene
Gender group differences in terror–stress, cognitive appraisals, ways of coping with terror,
and stress reactions were explored in a sample of Israeli adults following prolonged expo-
sure to political violence. Data were gathered at the height of the Al-Aqsa Intifada uprising
(May/July 2002) from a sample of 707 adult participants (60% women and 40% men) re-
siding in Haifa and northern Israel. Israeli women reported that they were more distressed
by political violence than the men did, and they also appraised the crisis situation as more
threatening and less manageable. Women reported using more problem-focused as well as
emotion-focused coping than men did; both men and women used a mixture of coping strate-
gies. Compared to men, women reported that they experienced more somatic symptoms and
more frequent posttraumatic stress symptoms than men did. Negative affectivity was found
to mediate gender differences in appraisals, coping, and outcomes. Overall, the nexus of re-
lations among key variables was found to be highly similar for men and women. These data
suggest that women may be more reactive to chronic political violence situations than men
are. The data are discussed and explicated in the context of stress and coping theory and prior
research on political violence and community disasters.
KEY WORDS: gender; terror; traumatic stress; disasters; political violence; coping.
Terror attacks are national political traumas,
which constitute a grave threat to a nation or com-
munity at large (Raviv, Sadeh, Raviv, Silberstein,
& Diver, 2000). Terror attack, as a major form of
political violence, is currently viewed as one of the
gravest global dangers that people face (Laqueur,
1999). Ever since the events of September 11, 2001,
there has been a growing recognition of the broad ar-
ray of potential psychological, behavioral, and social
consequences of the threat of terrorism as well as the
impact of an attack itself.
Terrorism often has widespread and devastat-
ing impacts on national stability, and it gravely im-
pacts on the health and well-being of victims or
those threatened by prolonged periods of political vi-
olence. Terror threatens a host of personal resources
(e.g., life, loved ones, personal property, beliefs, core
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Center for In-
terdisciplinary Research on Emotions, University of Haifa, Mt.
Carmel 31905, Israel; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
values), which possibly accounts for the high amount
of distress and trauma typically engendered in the
threatened population (cf. Hobfoll, 1988). Thus, ter-
ror poses a threat to one’s physical and psycholog-
ical integrity, one’s possessions and other entities,
one’s sense of what is familiar and controllable, and
a threat to cherished values, beliefs, commitments,
and assumptions. In addition, terror attack leads to
the curtailment of daily pursuits and routine activi-
ties, such as work, family, and leisure activities.
Since the 9/11 attack on the World Trade
Center a plethora of studies of terror-related dis-
tress, coping, and psychological consequences of
the 9/11 attacks have been published (e.g., Galea
et al., 2002; Schlenger et al., 2002; Schuster et al.,
2001; Silver, Holman, McIntosh, Poulin, & Gil-Rivas,
2002). These studies support the notion that varying
degrees of exposure to terror attack takes a major
psychological toll on the affected population, largely
because they confront people with the threat of help-
lessness, death, and mutilation.
2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.