Attitudes and stereotypes of Eastern and Western students in integrated and nonintegrated classes in high schools in Israel

Abraham Levi, Fordham University


This research tested the impact of levels of integrated high school experience among Israeli children of Eastern, Western, and Mixed descent on their attitudes, stereotype and self-esteem. The questions for investigation were: Given various backgrounds and experiences in school, how do Eastern, Western and Mixed descent high school children express: (1) Their attitudes toward self and other groups. (2) Their beliefs concerning interethnic relations (e.g., intermarriage, friendship, and leadership). (3) Personal self-esteem. The method involved a survey of 861 Jewish high school pupils from Eastern, Western, and Mixed parentage. The students were from 31 classes in 12 integrated and nonintegrated high schools from 12 cities in Israel. Gathering data from students was done by means of questionnaires, constructed to this end and distributed and filled out in the classroom during class time. The independent variables included ethnic descent and low, moderate and high levels of school ethnic integration from high Eastern to high Western. The dependent variables were based on an original, validated student interethnic attitude and self-esteem questionnaire which produced six significant factors: (1) Acceptance of segregation. (2) Openness to integration. (3) Solidarity with one's own group. (4) Negative Eastern stereotyping. (5) General stereotyping. (6) Perception of ethnic deprivation. The results showed that school integration had a significant, positive impact on attitudes (integrated schools created more openness and tolerance). Further, children of mixed parents were most tolerant and had least negative stereotyping. Eastern Jewish children were more accepting than Western. The results of the self-esteem questionnaire were inconclusive and, contrary to expectation, no differences were found for self-esteem attitudes between Eastern and Western students whether in the majority or minority. The results of this study shed light on the issues of integration. They emphasize the importance of interethnic contact in the schools for improving students' attitudes towards each other and for achieving positive results in the efforts toward integration. Thus, the findings may contribute to constructive policies of interethnic relations in the educational system. Israeli schools, therefore, have a timely opportunity to break down divisive attitudes and stereotypes (while maintaining self-esteem) and to contribute to the unity of Israeli life.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

Recommended Citation

Levi, Abraham, "Attitudes and stereotypes of Eastern and Western students in integrated and nonintegrated classes in high schools in Israel" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8821956.