Reliability and Validity of Palestinian Student Alienation Scale

Article excerpt

As in most of European countries, concern about stress and post-traumatic syndrome in the life of Palestinian youth has increased. In addition, there are the usual sources of stress in this age group, such as pressures of physical and emotional development (Frazer & Lisonbee, 1960; Clark & Ruble, 1978), and identity crisis (Marica, 1980; Schwartz, 1974; Suh, 1975). Further, there are factors which are unique to Palestinian culture, such as the political situation after the breakout of the Intifada followed by the uncertainties of the peace process. These stressful conditions seem to be involved in the alarming increase in alienation among Palestinian youth, causing great concern to families and professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers who need to provide early identification of problems. To this end, suitable instruments for measuring sources and consequences of alienation are vital.

Several instruments have been developed to assess alienation among English-speaking youth (see Clark, 1959; Erikson, 1986; Hoy, 1972; Mackey & Ahlgren, 1977). One of these instruments is the Student Alienation Scale (SAS) (Mau, 1992), a self-administered measure of alienation. The scale consists of twenty-four items and measures four domains: Powerlessness, Meaninglessness, Normlessness, and Social Estrangement. The measures are on a four-point scale: strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree - always, most of the time, some of the time, and never.

The purpose of the present study was to examine the reliability and validity of the Palestinian version of the Student Alienation Scale.

METHOD

Translation

In designing the Arabic version of the SAS, guidelines proposed in the literature on the cross-cultural methodology (Brislin, 1980) were followed as closely as possible; for example, independent (blind) back-translations and educated translation. Two bilingual Palestinians translated the Student Alienation Scale into Arabic. There was a complete agreement on the twenty-four items. The verbalization of the scale was tested with twenty students, all of whom did not have any difficulty in understanding the meaning of items.

Subjects

Participants in the study consisted of 574 students, mean age 17.2; SD = 10.4.

Measures

In addition to the SAS, subjects were administered a battery of measures assessing subjective well-being, psychiatric symptomatology, and personality factors: (a) The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al., 1985) which consists of five items (Cronbach's alpha = .67); (b) The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock & Erbaugh, 1961), a twenty-one item self-report symptom scale that was originally developed to assess the severity of depressive symptoms. Abdallah (1990) translated the BDI into Arabic (Cronbach's alpha = .91).; (c) The revised version of the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90-R; Derogatis, 1977), a report inventory reflecting the psychological symptom patterns of mental health. The Arabic version of SCL-90-R (Abdallah, 1992) is scored and interpreted on nine primary symptom dimensions: Somatization (alpha = .83); Obsessive-compulsive (alpha = .75); Interpersonal Sensitivity (Alpha = .81); Depression (alpha = .80); Anxiety (alpha = .82); Hostility (alpha = .70); Phobic Anxiety (alpha = .80); Paranoid Ideation (alpha = .73); Psychoticism (alpha = .83); in addition, a general index of distress can be obtained (alpha = .96); (d) The Sphere Specific measure of Control (SOCQ), a measure of locus of control (Paulhus, 1983), which consists of three subscales: (1) personal efficacy - the extent to which the individual believes that he/she has the ability in a situation of personal achievement as "solving crossword puzzles, climbing mountains"; (2) interpersonal control - the extent to which the individual interacts with others in dyads - "defending his/her interests at meetings, maintaining harmony in the family"; (3) sociopolitical control - the extent to which the individual's goals conflict with those of the political and social system such as "taking part in demonstrations, boycotting a particular product to bring down the price. …