The intergenerational transmission of self-efficacy among families of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust / by Thomas Moskowitz.
Much of the research on Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their offspring has assumed a trauma orientation. The emphasis on impairment or dysfunction pointed to an intergenerational legacy of pathology. With the exception of a few studies, the research has ignored the possibility of any functional qualities or intergenerational characterological strengths among these families. The original assumption that pathology necessarily transmitted from the survivors to future generations appeared to be substantiated by the scientific literature. Upon more intense focus, however, it was discovered that many of these studies suffered from a variety of inaccuracies and methodological flaws. In addition, a minor trend toward identifying some positive effects associated with Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and their offspring was evidenced in the literature. A high degree of perceived self-efficacy is a variable associated with successful coping ability following the experience of trauma. The ability to successfully persist in the face of threatening, dangerous, and aversive obstacles provides a corrective learning experience that ultimately increases the perception of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy has been positively correlated with ego strength, interpersonal competency, self-esteem, high achievement, and enhanced personal adjustment. This study was designed to determine whether three generation families of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust measure significantly higher in levels of self-efficacy than three generation families of Jewish-Americans not directly exposed to the Holocaust. Twenty families of each group (n = 120) completed the Self-Efficacy Scale. A 3 x 2 factorial ANOVA was used to analyze the data of the full scale. Separate ANOVAs were conducted for the social subscale and the general subscale. The families of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust measured significantly higher in overall self-efficacy and general self-efficacy than the comparison group. There was no significant difference between groups in social self-efficacy. Although the survivors measured significantly higher than their control counterparts in all three self-efficacy scales, the comparison groups across the second and third generations measured statistically equivalent. Evidence failed to indicate an intergenerational transmission of self-efficacy; however, the high levels of self-efficacy correlated with the survivor families suggests a legacy that is functional and adaptive. The importance of focusing on self-efficacy within a historical, sociocultural, and intergenerational framework is highlighted.
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