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      Self-Censorship Orientation: Scale Development, Correlates and Outcomes


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          Self-censorship is defined as intentionally and voluntarily withholding information from others in absence of formal obstacles. We conducted cross-sectional and longitudinal research to develop a quantitative measure of individuals’ Self-Censorship Orientation (SCO) and investigated its correlates and outcomes in the context of the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Stage 1 investigated the factor structure of the scale and its convergent and discriminant validity in a representative sample (N = 499). Findings revealed two negatively related factors representing preferences for self-censorship and for disclosure of information. The factors were distinct from measures of similar constructs and correlated as expected with variables representing conservatism, ingroup commitment and universalistic values. In Stage 2, participants were re-surveyed five months later to establish test-retest reliability and predictive validity. SCO factors assessed at Stage 1 predicted readiness to conceal or reveal information portraying the ingroup’s conduct in the conflict negatively beyond all Stage 1 measures. The SCO scale provides a reliable and valid instrument for future investigations of self-censorship and its individual and societal implications.



          Self-censorship is an intentional voluntary choice to withhold information from others, even when no formal obstacles prevent the dissemination of this information.

          Why was this study done?

          The research aimed to develop a questionnaire that may assess people’s tendency to self-censor, or Self-Censorship Orientation (SCO). We were interested in individual characteristics that may be related to SCO and the outcomes that this orientation might predict in a context of protracted inter-group conflict, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

          What did the researchers do and find?

          In the first stage of the research, we administered the measure of SCO and measures of other relevant individual characteristics to a representative sample of Jewish Israelis. The findings revealed that the SCO scale can assess two dimensions: the tendency to self-censor and the tendency to disclose information. The scores on these dimensions were related to conservatism, commitment to one’s group and universalistic values. In the second stage of the study, participants were re-surveyed five months after the first stage, and were presented with information that portrayed their group’s conduct in the conflict negatively. SCO scores from the first stage were able to predict the readiness to conceal or reveal this information.

          What do these findings mean?

          The findings suggest that the tendency to self-censor or disclose information can predict meaningful future outcomes. The scale developed in this research can be useful in future studies of self-censorship and its implications.

          Translated abstract

          צנזורה עצמית מוגדרת כהסתרה רצונית ומכוונת של מידע מפני אחרים בהעדר איסורים או חסמים רשמיים. ביצענו מחקר רוחב ואורך בכדי לפתח מדד כמותני לנטיה אישית לצנזורה עצמית, ובחנו משתנים שנטיה זו קשורה אליהם ואת תוצאותיה בהקשר של הסכסוך הבלתי נשלט בין ישראלים לפלסטינים. בשלב הראשון בחנו את מבנה הגורמים של המדד ואת התוקף המתכנס והמבחין שלו בקרב מדגם מייצג (N = 499). הממצאים חשפו שני גורמים הנמצאים במתאם שלילי זה עם זה, שייצגו העדפות לצנזורה עצמית ולחשיפה של מידע. הגורמים היו מובחנים ממדדים של מושגים דומים והיו קשורים כמצופה עם מדדים המייצגים שמרנות, מחויבות לקבוצת הפנים וערכים אוניברסליים. בשלב השני המשיבים נסקרו שוב לאחר חמישה חודשים בכדי לבסס מהימנות מבחן חוזר ותוקף ניבוי. גורמי המדד שנמדדו בשלב הראשון ניבאו את הנכונות להסתיר או לחשוף מידע המציג את התנהלות קבוצת הפנים בסכסוך באור שלילי, וזאת מעל ומעבר למדדים אחרים מהשלב הראשון. המדד שפותח מספק כלי מהימן ותקף למחקרים עתידיים בנושא צנזורה עצמית והשלכותיה ברמת הפרט והחברה.

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                Author and article information

                J Soc Polit Psych
                Journal of Social and Political Psychology
                J. Soc. Polit. Psych.
                27 July 2018
                : 6
                : 2
                : 331-363
                [a ]Department of Psychology and Program for Peace and Conflict Management, University of Haifa , Haifa, Israel
                [b ]School of Education, Tel Aviv University , Tel Aviv, Israel
                [c ]School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University , Tel Aviv, Israel
                [d ]Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya , Herzliya, Israel
                [e ] Open University of Israel , Ra'anana, Israel
                [f ]School of Psychology, The College for Academic Studies, Or-Yehuda, Israel
                [7] Clark University , Worcester, MA, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, 199 Aba Khoushy Ave., Haifa 3498838, Israel. ksharvit@ 123456psy.haifa.ac.il

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 11 September 2017
                : 19 June 2018
                Self URI (journal-page): https://journals.psychopen.eu/
                Original Research Reports

                צנזורה עצמית,self-censorship,censorship,disclosure,information,freedom of expression,חופש ביטוי,מידע,חשיפת מידע,צנזורה


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