Students at the Dizengoff School in South Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: THE CENTER FOR INNOVATION IN EDUCATION)
Although most Israelis say they have a very high feeling of danger compared to residents of four other countries, they also claim to have the highest quality of life, lowest stress, and that there is no better place to live. These were the ironic findings published recently by psychologists at Tel Hai College in the Upper Galilee.
Questionnaires were filled out by a total of 1,022 students in Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Israel and Greece. The Israeli student sample included 480 respondents.
Tel Hai Prof. Shaul Kimhi, the lead researcher, commented: “The low level of stress symptoms is also surprising and it is possible that the reason for this is that precisely because we are a long-suffering people, exposed for many decades to wars, terrorist attacks and difficult events of different kinds, this makes us resilient and the response is fewer symptoms of stress.”
This makes it possible to compare levels of resiliency among the different countries, which has not been possible until now because researchers from different countries used different research surveys.
Seven categories were examined in the research: feelings of danger, stress symptoms, sense of coherence (sense of control in life), quality of life, personal resilience, community resilience, and national resilience.
The research findings indicate that in terms of feelings of danger, the Israelis are unsurprisingly in first place, after them the Greeks, in third place the British, in fourth place the Germans and at the bottom were the Australians.
From the perspective of stress symptoms, the findings are very surprising. In first place stands Australia, next Germany, just below it Greece, in fourth place Britain and in last place is Israel. This is surprising because, despite the difficult conflict in the region and the ongoing threat of terrorism, Israelis report the lowest level of stress compared to the other countries.
The quality of life index also presents surprising data – Israel is paradoxically in first place, followed by Greece, Australia, Germany and Britain. In the more developed countries, the students paradoxically report a lower quality of life.
According to Kimhi, this index is based on a number of questions dealing with satisfaction with one’s life at present, work, health, leisure time, interpersonal relationships, relationship with family, and involvement with what happens in the country. With regard to national resilience, the study reveals that students from Australia and Germany reported a much greater level, followed by Great Britain, Israel and Greece.
Regarding community resilience, it was found that the Australians reported the highest level, in second place Israel, Germany, Great Britain and lastly Greece.
When it comes to personal resilience, by contrast, the findings were unexpected. The highest level was reported by Greece, followed by Israelis, Australians, the British and Germans.
“This study suggests that when we come to examine personal, community and national resilience and the variables that support or decrease resilience, we need to take into account the cultural aspect as the most important factor. What is true of one country is not necessarily true of another,” said Kimhi.
“With this, despite the differences, we found similarities, among them the positive connection between the individual’s quality of life assessment and the three levels of resilience: The more individuals perceive their quality of life as high, the higher they report personal, communal and national resilience.
“It is surprising and interesting to see that the students from Israel who are more exposed than others to feelings of danger report higher satisfaction, and this can be explained by the fact that Israelis love their country very much and are connected to it.
The low level of stress symptoms is also surprising and it is possible that the reason for this is that precisely because we are a long-suffering people, exposed for many decades to wars, terrorist attacks and difficult events of different kinds, this makes us resilient and the response is fewer symptoms of stress.”