May. 10, 2020

Right-wing voters in Israel benefit from a “national sense of coherence" that left-wing voters do not, according to a new study by BGU researchers. According to BGU's Prof. Shifra Sagy (pictured below), who defined the term “Sense of National Coherence", right-wing voters are more likely to consider their national group “comprehensible, meaningful, and manageable." That sense provides them with additional resilience during the coronavirus crisis. Left-wing voters, however, rely solely on a personal “sense of coherence", which is a “global orientation of the world as comprehensible, meaningful, and manageable," according to the late BGU Prof. Aaron Antonovsky, who coined the term. Right-wing voters also benefit from a personal sense of coherence. 

A short report about this pilot study is forthcoming in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology​. Prof. Sagy has also extended the study to the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the Palestinian Authority. Results from those surveys will be available in the near future. 

Prof. Sagy and Dr. Adi Mana of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation prepared questionnaires which were delivered to a sample of 396 Israeli Jews March 23-25, 2020, of them 180 (45.5%) right-wing (mean age=36.8; 92 males 51%) and 216 (54.5%) moderate and extreme left-wing voters (mean age=42, SD=12.51; 112 males 51.5%). Participants were divided according to their votes in the last election to the Israeli Knesset (March 2019) into two groups: extreme and moderate-right (Likud & Yamina) vs. extreme and moderate left (Kahol-Lavan, Haavoda, Gesher, Merez). 

Right-wing survey participants reported stronger levels of mental health, Sense of National Coherence, and trust compared to left-wing voters. 

“Right-wing voters presented higher levels of mental health during the crisis as compared to left-wing voters. Right-wing voters also reported stronger levels of national coping resources like a sense of national coherence and trust in governmental institutions. Moreover, among left-wing voters mental health was only linked to personal resources, while among the right-wing participants national resources were significant as well. 

“The results highlight the role of political orientation and low trust in the government as a possible risk factor for mental health even in times of global crisis," according to Sagy. 

Prof. Sagy is the director of the Martin Springer Center for Conflict Studies at BGU.

The study was conducted under the auspices of the BGU Coronavirus Task Force, which was initiated by BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz to harness the ingenuity of the faculty and the resources of the University to tackle the myriad challenges the current pandemic poses.​