Skip to main content

Psychological Correlates of Civilian Preparedness for Conflicts

  • Moran Bodas (a1), Maya Siman-Tov (a2), Shulamith Kreitler (a3) and Kobi Peleg (a1) (a2)

Preparedness for emergencies and disasters is imperative for public resilience. Previous studies have revealed low levels of civilian preparedness for conflicts. Classic behavioral models prove inapt in describing preparedness patterns in victimized populations chronically exposed to this threat. In an effort to expand this perspective, we hypothesized that other psychological constructs are correlated with preparedness.


A cross-sectional, Internet-based study was performed in Israel in early 2016. A sociodemographically diverse sample included 385 participants, Jews and Arabs. The tools included a preparedness index, sense of preparedness questionnaire, Trait Anxiety Inventory, Life Orientation Test, Behavioral Inhibition & Activation System scales, and ego defenses.


The results suggested that optimistic and rational individuals reported significantly higher levels of preparedness, whereas those who scored highly on the trait anxiety scale and those with a tendency to use denial coping mechanisms reported significantly lower levels of preparedness.


The findings suggest that additional constructs, other than classic threat perception components, might play a key role in governing preparedness behavior. In particular, psychological manipulation of dispositional optimism or optimistic thinking might be effective in motivating preparedness behavior. Future research should explore such innovative ways to promoting preparedness. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:451–459)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to Moran Bodas, MPH, The Department of Disaster Medicine, School of Public Health, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, P.O. Box 39040, Ramat Aviv, Tel-Aviv, 69978 ISRAEL (e-mail:
Hide All
1. Hemond, Y, Robert, B. Preparedness: the state of the art and future prospects. Disaster Prev Manag. 2012;21(4):404-417.
2. Peek, LA, Mileti, DS. The history of disaster research. In: Bechtel RB, Churchman A, eds. Handbook of Environmental Psychology. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons Inc; 2002:511-524.
3. Coffman, S. Parents’ struggle to rebuild family life after Hurricane Andrew. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 1996;17(4):353-367.
4. Gerrity, ET, Steinglass, P. Relocation stress following catastrophic events. In: Ursano RJ, ed. Terrorism and Disaster: Individual and Community Mental Health Interventions. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 2003:259-286.
5. Miller, L. Family therapy of terroristic trauma: psychological syndromes and treatment strategies. Am J Fam Ther. 2003;31(4):257-280.
6. Patterson, JM. Integrating family resilience and family stress theory. J Marriage Fam. 2002;64(2):349-360.
7. Buchbut, A. The Nightmare Scenario of the IDF for War with Hezbollah: About A Thousand Rockets per Day [in Hebrew]. Walla News website. Published March 31, 2015. Accessed June 1, 2016.
8. Bodas, M, Siman-Tov, M, Kreitler, S, et al. Assessment of emergency preparedness of households in Israel to war: current status. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2015;9(4):382-390.
9. Paton, D. Disaster preparedness: a social-cognitive perspective. Disaster Prev Manag. 2003;12(3):210-216.
10. Paton, D, Smith, L, Johnston, D. When good intentions turn bad: promoting natural hazard preparedness. Aust J Emerg Manag. 2005;20(1):25-30.
11. Bodas, M, Siman-Tov, M, Kreitler, S, et al. Perception of the threat of war in Israel: implications for future preparedness planning [published online October 1, 2015]. Israel J Health Policy Res. doi:
12. Rüstemli, A, Karanci, AN. Correlates of earthquake cognitions and preparedness behavior in a victimized population. J Soc Psychol. 1999;139(1):91-101.
13. Karanci, AN, Aksit, B, Dirik, G. Impact of a community disaster awareness training program in Turkey: does it influence hazard-related cognitions and preparedness behaviors. Social Behavior and Personality: an International Journal. 2005;33(3):243-258.
14. Kreitler, S. The cognitive guidance of behavior. In: Jost JT, Banaji MR, Prentice DA, eds. Perspectivism in Social Psychology: The Yin and Yang of Scientific Progress. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2004:113-126.
15. Kreitler, S, Kreitler, H. Cognitive orientation and physical disease or health. Eur J Pers. 1991;5(2):109-129.
16. Spielberger, CD, Gorsuch, RL, Lushene, RE. STAI.Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Self Evaluation Questionnaire). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist; 1970.
17. Scheier, MF, Carver, CS. Optimism, coping, and health: assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies. Health Psychol. 1985;4(3):219-247.
18. Carver, CS, White, TL. Behavioral inhibition, behavioral activation, and affective responses to impending reward and punishment: the BIS/BAS Scales. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1994;67(2):319-333.
19. Conte, HR, Plutchik, R. Ego Defenses: Theory and Measurement (No. 10). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons; 1995.
20. Popper, M, Amit, K, Gal, R, et al. The capacity to lead: major psychological differences between “leaders” and “non leaders.” Mil Psychol. 2004;16(4):245-263.
21. Higgins, ET. Beyond pleasure and pain. Am Psychol. 1997;52(12):1280-1300.
22. Umansky, A. Depression and Avoidance - Increase in Sensitivity to Negative Reinforcement and Decrease in Sensitivity to Positive Reinforcement as A Common Basis for Understanding Depression in Behavioral and Cognitive Models [master’s thesis]. Jerusalem, Israel: Hebrew University of Jerusalem; 2011. Accessed August 23, 2016.
23. Apter, A, Gothelf, D, Offer, R, et al. Suicidal adolescents and ego defense mechanisms. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1997;36(11):1520-1527.
24. Soffer, Y, Goldberg, A, Adini, B, et al. The relationship between demographic/educational parameters and perceptions, knowledge and earthquake mitigation in Israel. Disasters. 2011;35(1):36-44.
25. Fothergill, A. Gender, risk, and disaster. Int J Mass Emerg Disasters. 1996;14(1):33-56.
26. Kirschenbaum, A. Families and disaster behavior: a reassessment of family preparedness. Int J Mass Emerg Disasters. 2006;24:111-143.
27. Page, L, Rubin, J, Amlot, R, et al. Are Londoners prepared for an emergency? A longitudinal study following the London bombings. Biosecur Bioterror . 2008;6(4):309-319.
28. Greenberg, MR, Schneider, DF. Gender differences in risk perception: effects differ in stressed vs. non‐stressed environments. Risk Anal. 1995;15(4):503-511.
29. Herzog, H. Homefront and battlefront: the status of Jewish and Palestinian women in Israel. Isr Stud. 1998;3(1):61-84.
30. The Social Survey 2010. Health, Life-Style and Use of Computers and Internet [in Hebrew]. Israel Central Bureau of Statistics website. Accessed March 15, 2016.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  • ISSN: 1935-7893
  • EISSN: 1938-744X
  • URL: /core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed