anxiety, depression, ego identity, ethnic identity, mixed-ethnic adolescents, quality of life, self-esteem
H Abu-Rayya. Psychological Traits Of Mixed-Ethnic Arab-European Adolescents In Israel. The Internet Journal of Mental Health. 2004 Volume 2 Number 2.
This study compared the psychological characteristics of 127 mixed-ethnic Arab-European adolescents and 196 mono-ethnic Arabs aged between 12 and 18 years who resided in Israel. Findings revealed significant differences in favor of the mono-ethnic participants in areas of self-esteem, quality of life, environmental mastery, and positive relations with others. In a similar pattern where higher scores are indicative of worse adjustment, mixed-ethnic adolescents, had significantly higher scores than their mono-ethnic counterparts on psycho-physiological symptoms, anxiety, and depression. In terms of Arab ethnic identification, differences between mixed- and mono-ethnic participants were found to be non-significant. At the ego identity level, the study's mixed-ethnic adolescents were significantly more often identified as 'diffused' subjects, and significantly less often identified as having attained an 'achieved' ego identity in comparison to their mono-ethnic Arab peers.
This research was supported by Gates Cambridge University Trust, the Overseas Research Student Award Scheme, the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology at the University of Cambridge, and Wolfson College.
The Arab minority in Israel, often viewed an indigenous ethnic group ( 1, 2 ), has seen over the past decades an increase in the size of a sub-population of mixed-ethnic Arab-European families living in its midst. All the European wives in these marriages were born in different Western or Eastern European countries and immigrated to Israel with their Israeli Arab husbands after their husbands finished studying in Europe.
Mixed-ethnic unions among Israeli Arabs tend to be seen as representing a deviation away from ethnic harmony and identity; similarly to judgments formed of mixed marriages in other contexts ( 3 ). Such marriages are typically believed to involve the risk of both social maladaptation and personal deformation ( 4 ). Relatedly, evidence suggests that the offspring of mixed-ethnic marriages, together with those marriages themselves, are immediately subject to the suspicion and disapproval of the ethnic group/s in which they live, as well as that of both partners; they are regarded as a problem both for the couple and for the rest of society ( 4 , 5 , 6 ).
The decline in the influence of traditional communal values and forms of family organization, as undergone by the Arab minority in Israel, and the increased influence of Western ideas and family structures, as well as new forms of personal mobility and modernity ( 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 ) offer different explanations as to why some Israeli Arabs may have taken European marriage partners.
An emphasis on the collectivity of the Arab group and on the continuity of its ethnic and cultural structure ( 1 , 8 , 11), given the pervasiveness of these values in the Arab community, may explain Arabs' strong rejection of and tendency to marginalize mixed-ethnic unions and their issue. At least three main factors can help explain Israeli Arabs' emphasis on collectivism and solidarity. First, the history of ethnic tension between Arabs and Jews, in the course of which the so-called 'historical collective-self' of Arabs in Israel has come ever more sharply into focus in the wake of certain crisis-points or watershed moments in the country's treatment of its minority ( 12 , 13 , 14 ). Second, the Arab perception of systematic deprivation occurring among Arabs in Israel, which encourages them to construct and experience a sense of their own identity of conflict with the state. Third, the Arab perception of the perpetuation of Arabs' disadvantage in Israel through legal and political forms of discrimination (2 , 15, 16 ). Indicators in a range of fields — wealth, health, population and educational attainment — suggest disparities between Arabs and Israelis ( 17 ).
In this context, children born to European mothers and Arab fathers, perceived as they are as a threat to the continuity of the Arab group's ethnic structure, are likely to encounter a higher than usual degree of
Findings relating to the effect of '
On the basis of the three broad cited lines of literature referring to '
As summarized in Table 1, a total sample of 323 participants: 127 mixed-ethnic adolescents and 196 mono-ethnic Arab adolescents participated in this study. All of the mono-ethnic adolescents and 92.9% of the mixed-ethnic adolescents were born in Israel; the remainder of the mixed cohort were born in their mothers' country, but had lived in Israel from early childhood. The average age of the mixed-ethnic sample was 15.63 with a range of 13 to 18, while in the mono-ethnic sample the average age was 15.68 with a range of 12 to 18. The two samples did not differ in their global school performance, as measured by their average year score. As indicated by their self-report of the socioeconomic level of their families, all of the mixed-ethnic adolescents and the majority of their counterparts belonged to the middle and upper middle classes.
The mixed-ethnic participants were recruited via telephone from a list of 157 mixed-ethnic adolescents (above the age of 13), which was prepared in two main ways: first, assistance was sought from local authorities such as councils and welfare offices; second, according to the so-called method of snowball-sampling, 'family introduced family' and 'adolescent introduced adolescent' to the survey. Request for participation of mono-ethnic adolescents was advertised in relevant high schools (of age ranges from 12- to18-years old). Those who agreed to participate were contacted via telephone and provided with further information about the study. Approval for adolescents to participate was sought from both adolescents and their parents, leading to informed consent agreements being collected at the time of delivering of the study questionnaires. Adolescents were further assured that any information provided would be treated confidentially.
Mixed-ethnic participants met with the principal investigator in their homes. They could not be met in groups because they often live in different geographic locations. The mono-ethnic adolescents, however, met with the principal investigator in groups at school with groups defined by either neighborhood or school-year. In all cases, participants completed the questionnaires described below.
All respondents answered the Arabic version of the measures. The study employed translation and back translation ( 39 ) to assure a precise match between the Arab and English versions of the scales. This was an important step because the measures used were not previously tested with Arab adolescents or those of Arab-European origin in Israel. In addition, a pilot study was conducted to assure the clarity of the translated versions. These interviews with 10 mixed-ethnic participants (5 males and 5 females) and 10 mono-ethnic Arabs (5 males and 5 females) yielded clearer alternative wordings for items found problematic by adolescents.
As a modest compensation for his or her input and time each participant was given a music CD. This research was approved by the Psychology Ethics Committee of Cambridge University.
Participants filled out questionnaire measures. Mean scores for each measure, after reversing negative items, were used in the analyses, with a high score indicating a higher degree of the characteristic recorded by the measure.
Statistical analyses of responses of respondents were conducted using the statistical package of SPSS 12.0 for Windows.
A preliminary analysis showed that age and socio-economic status of participants were statistically non-significantly related to the rest of the variables examined. Based on this analysis, such demographic variables were not controlled for in further analyses, which composed of two sets of analyses. The first comprised a Multivariate Analysis (MANOVA) in which respondents' type of ethnic origin (mixed- or mono-ethnic) and gender (male or female) were the independent factors, with self-esteem, quality of life, environmental mastery, positive relations with others, psycho-physiological symptoms, anxiety, depression, and Arab ethnic identity (ethnic behaviors, ethnic affirmation and belonging, and ethnic identity achievement) as the dependent variables. In the second set of analysis, 2 (type of ethnic origin) X 2 (gender) X 4 (ego statuses) contingency tables and chi-square tests were used to examine differences between mixed- and mono-ethnic participants in the Ego Statuses (Achievement, Moratorium, Foreclosure, and Diffusion).
The interaction between ethnic origin (mixed- or mono-ethnic) and gender was statistically non-significant with respect to adjustment scores, as were differences by gender for the total sample or within each group (mixed- or mono-ethnic). The only statistically significant differences in scores for the dependent variables related to differences in type of ethnic origin between mixed- and mono-ethnic participants (F (10, 310) = 12.02, Wilks' λ = 0.72, p = 0.001). Post-hoc ANOVA analyses revealed significant differences between mixed- and mono-ethnic individuals for self-esteem (F (1, 319) = 10.61, p = 0.001), quality of life (F (1, 319) = 7.60, p = 0.006), environmental mastery (F (1, 319) = 12.81, p = 0.001), and positive relations with others (F (1, 319) = 8.76, p = 0.003). In all these instances, the mono-ethnic group scored higher (see Table 2). Mixed-ethnic adolescents, however, achieved significantly higher scores than their counterparts on the psycho-physiological symptoms scale (F (1, 319) = 9.40, p = 0.002), the anxiety scale (F (1, 319) = 8.26, p = 0.004), and the depression scale (F (1, 319) = 14.53, p = 0.001). Non-significant differences between mixed- and mono-ethnic participants were found for Arab ethnic identity achievement and Arab ethnic affirmation and belonging; however, mixed-ethnic adolescents scored significantly higher on the Arab ethnic behaviors subscale (F (1, 319) = 17.37, p = 0.001).
Calculations based on Pearson chi-square tests revealed a non-significant relationship between gender and the distribution of ego identity statuses within each of the groups. The relationship between Type of Ethnic Origin - mono or mixed - and Ego Statuses for the overall sample was statistically significant (χ2 (df = 4) = 52.70, p = 0.001). The contingency link, measured by Cramer's V, between the two variables was moderate and significant (Cramer's V = 0.41, p = 0.001). This relationship seemed to result from the statistically significant difference between frequencies of Ego Achievement and Diffusion Statuses yielded by the two groups. As Table 3 shows, 31% of the mixed-ethnic participants were classified as having attained an Ego Achievement Status, while 68% of their counterpart mono-ethnic adolescents were placed in this category. By contrast, 31% of the mixed-ethnic participants were placed in the Ego Diffusion Status, while only 8% of the mono-ethnic participants were so classified. Mixed- and mono-ethnic adolescents showed statistically non-significant differences regarding the frequencies according to which they were classified into the other two Ego Statuses, Foreclosure or Moratorium. Comparisons within gender between the mixed- and mono-ethnic groups did not markedly change this pattern of results.
Consistent with previous research indicating relatively less positive psychological attributes for mixed-marriages' offspring ( 25, 32, 33 , 34 , 49), this study suggests that Arab-European mixed-marriages in Israel incur potentially unpleasant implications for their children. Although the study did not directly investigate the actual experiences of '
More surprisingly, however, the study also found that mixed-ethnic children showed a non-significant difference from their Arab counterparts in their sense of Arab ethnic identification, thereby disproving half of the third hypothesis. Specifically and without notable gender differences, mixed- and mono-ethnic adolescents revealed quantitatively equal degrees of affirmation, belonging, and attachment to the Arab group, as well as interest in, awareness of, and sense of clarity concerning their Arab ethnicity. Mixed-ethnic adolescents indeed recorded Arab ethnic behaviors, such as involvement in Arab ethnic traditions, to a greater degree than did mono-ethnic Arab adolescents. One explanation of this finding could be that the family setting in which these children were nurtured fostered an Arab sense of ethnic belonging. Another approach could be that mixed-ethnic adolescents felt an internal or externally imposed need to assert their Arab affiliation in the context of their immediate Arab minority communities. Whatever the explanation, these individuals as a group did not appear to have lesser self-experienced outcomes of adjustment difficulties as described above.
Findings of the present study at the personal (ego) identity level confirmed the remaining component of the third hypothesis, that mixed-ethnic offspring are disadvantaged in attempting to form a strong sense of personal identity. The study supported the tendency of classification of mixed-ethnic adolescents with the Ego Identity Diffusion Status and mono-ethnic adolescents with Achievement Status. Mixed- and mono-ethnic individuals showed non-significant differences on the other two Ego Statuses, the Foreclosure or Moratorium. These results provided support for previous accounts, postulating the susceptibility of mixed-ethnic offspring to difficulties in the processes of forming personal identity ( 30, 31 , 38, 49, 50 ). Evidence from this study supported the idea that mixed-marriages between European females and Arab males in Israel appear to be correlated with problems in the formation of ego identity among their adolescent offspring, as compared to the association of the background of merely mono-ethnic Arab adolescents. This conclusion held true for mixed-ethnic males and females insofar as such individuals were more often identified as 'diffused' subjects at the ego identity level, and significantly less often identified as having attained an 'achieved' ego identity. This conclusion, coupled with the finding of a non-significant difference between mixed- and mono-ethnic individuals vis-à-vis Arab ethnic identification, implies that ethnic resolution does not necessarily in itself confer the achievement of a personal identity. There are personal standards that seem to be formed separately from ethnic crystallization in individuals' self-concept.
This study's findings are consonant with the supposition of less positive psychological outcomes associated with mixed-marriages' offspring. Nevertheless, it is important to note the study's methodological limitations. First, the principal investigator and the research measures embodied an Arab language and not European language background, which may have affected participants' responses. Second, the study compared Arab-European adolescents and Arab adolescents from Muslim religious backgrounds, meaning that comparisons might not yield a complete picture of the psychological characteristics of the former, which could be from either Christian or Muslim background. Future research comparing those adolescents with Arab Christians in Israel or European Christians is therefore recommended. Even if these limitations did not affect the study's results it should be understood that representing the experience of mixed-ethnic adolescents as in some ways 'less positive' by no means implies pathologizing such individuals. Additionally, this study's attention to the Israeli case does not mean that Arab-European children constitute a uniform group. Within this group there are differences in psychological characteristics that the study did not focus upon. Specifically, the study did not identify how potential support variables such as parents, teachers, and social-networks might promote positive psychological development of these youth and differentiate between those with positive or less positive personality characteristics. Relatedly, the study did not investigate how these individuals align themselves with their European heritages and how Arab/European ethnic identity interaction links to parameters of personality characteristics. The proposed examination would explore the nuances of