A LEGACY OF INSECURITY, A RESERVOIR OF HOPE: THE PSYCHOSOCIAL IMPACT AND DEVELOPMENTAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WAR ON ADOLESCENTS (PEACE STUDIES, LOCUS-OF-CONTROL, ADOLESCENT ALIENATION)

DEAN WILLIAM RUDOY, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of the present research was to address the psychosocial impact and developmental implications of the threat of nuclear war on adolescents. Five scales were constructed to measure the opinions and expectations of the respondents regarding the threat of nuclear war, the future for both themselves and the world, socio-political activism, and adult stewardship. Two standard scales measuring powerlessness and estrangement--locus of control and alienation--were also employed and analyzed for their interaction with the above opinions and expectations.^ The respondents were 270 female and male junior and senior volunteers attending the three high schools in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, who completed the above scales anonymously.^ In three of the five major areas of inquiry, a majority of these youngsters responded unequivocally and as predicted: (a) they are keenly aware and fearful of the threat of nuclear war and believe such a war to be unlimitable, unsurvivable, and probable in their lifetime--with those most highly threatened more pessimistic about the future, more skeptical of socio-political activism, and more critical of adult stewardship; (b) they are eagerly optimistic about their own personal futures; and (c) they have confidence in socio-political activism. These results are consistent with previous research. The findings with regard to appraisal of the world's future and adult stewardship were less definitive: Though the negative appraisal statistical findings predicted were not obtained, content examination of item responses revealed that amongst these youngsters the world's future appears unsure and imperiled, and the adult generation is found seriously wanting in their management of nuclear and world affairs.^ Both alienation and externality were significantly correlated with negative assessments of the future, socio-political activism, and adult stewardship.^ For many developmental theorists a context of trust in a secure present and an enduring future is integral to the healthy psychosocial development of adolescents. When the very existence of the future is cast into doubt--when the adult generation to whom the future is entrusted is seen, as by a majority of these youngsters, as having jeopardized it--the process of development may well be compromised. ^

Subject Area

Psychology

Recommended Citation

RUDOY, DEAN WILLIAM, "A LEGACY OF INSECURITY, A RESERVOIR OF HOPE: THE PSYCHOSOCIAL IMPACT AND DEVELOPMENTAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WAR ON ADOLESCENTS (PEACE STUDIES, LOCUS-OF-CONTROL, ADOLESCENT ALIENATION)" (1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8521415.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8521415

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