The project proposed here aims to expand our understanding of the origins of maladjusted behaviors in children exposed to political violence by examining the complex set of links among levels of exposure to political violence, Social Information Processing patterns, and disruptive behavior in preschool children in Israel. Exposure to political violence refers here to constant and unpredictable exposure to rocket attacks which are the result of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Social Information Processing (SIP) refers to the internal representational processes that guide social behavior; finally, disruptive behaviors refer to the externalizing and internalizing symptoms of preschool children. To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first time that SIP is investigated in children exposed to political violence. The following hypotheses will be tested in this study: a) more exposure to both political violence and to violence at the home will be related to less adaptive SIP patterns. However, it is expected that because of the differences between the two types of exposure, the distortion in SIP patterns may be exhibited in different processes (i.e. SIP steps); b) less adaptive SIP patterns will be related to higher externalizing and internalizing problems; c) SIP will mediate the link between violence exposure and preschool children’s externalizing and internalizing behaviors; and d) the quality of the mother-child relationship and the parents' psychological functioning will have a moderating affect on the complex set of links between exposure to political violence, SIP, and problem behavior. In other words, the relationships between exposure and SIP and problem behavior will be weaker in families characterized with higher dyadic emotional availability and in families where parents report of lower levels of psychological symptoms.
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