Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Evaluation of Life Satisfaction after the 2011 Van (Turkey) Earthquake

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Evaluation of Life Satisfaction after the 2011 Van (Turkey) Earthquake

Article excerpt

As with other disasters, earthquakes create a collective stress situation because of sudden physical, social, and psychological disruptions in the affected community (Kun, Tong, Liu, Pei, & Luo, 2013). They are one of the biggest natural threats in Turkey, which lies within an active earthquake zone. On October 23, 2011, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale struck Van province in eastern Anatolia, Turkey, resulting in 604 fatalities, nearly 6,000 people suffering injuries, and 222 people being rescued (Ikizer, Karanci, & Dogulu, 2015).

Earthquakes are prominent within the scale of natural disasters, and may lead to psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety, and cause damage to the psychological well-being of people in the affected area. In addition, Oishi et al. (2015) indicated that the timing of studies undertaken after an earthquake does not make a significant difference in terms of the reported well-being of the earthquake survivors.

Life satisfaction (LS), as an indicator of psychological well-being, is an important component of earthquake survivors' mental health because it is an individual's own overall evaluation of what constitutes a good life (Diener, Oishi, & Lucas, 2015). Although an individual's LS may be influenced by a range of factors, Luechinger and Raschky (2009) found it to be associated inversely with negative life events, such as disasters. In view of the devastating physical, social, and psychological effects of the 2011 Van earthquake, I proposed the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 1: Life satisfaction will be lower among who experienced the earthquake than it will be among those who did not.

I also investigated the predictive role of the cognitive constructs of belief in a just world and hope, in regard to participants' LS. Individuals' beliefs about the world may serve as a survival mechanism to help them overcome traumatic events, such as an earthquake. Belief in a just world (BJW) is a core conviction that facilitates individuals' perception of the world as being predictable and meaningful (Göregenli, 2013), and contributes to forming their psychological responses to unforeseeable traumatic events. It comprises two main components (Riaz et al., 2015): general (justice for others) and personal (justice for self). As Göregenli (2013) found that disadvantaged groups have low BJW, in this study, the hit group can be considered to be a disadvantaged group. Thus, I proposed the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 2: Those who experienced the earthquake will have lower belief in a just world than will those who did not.

BJW is seen as a positive illusion that serves an adaptive function for promoting mental health and well-being (Dalbert, 2001). Thus, earthquake survivors' LS may be strongly related to BJW, which is a buffering mechanism against difficult events, such as an earthquake, and, as such, may have a supporting role in the promotion of LS. Therefore, I proposed the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 3: The personal and general belief in a just world of people who did, compared to those who did not, experience the earthquake will have a stronger relationship with life satisfaction.

I also considered the predictive role of hope in promoting LS as a related structure with postdisaster cognitive reflections. The agency thinking component of hope, which refers to a sense of successful determination in meeting goals in the past, present, and future (Snyder et al., 1991), would seem to positively predict LS. In contrast, the pathways component is influenced by the perceived availability of ways to achieve goals and it has a negative effect on LS (Bailey & Snyder, 2007). Although the concept of hope encompasses expectations of a better future, for earthquake survivors these expectations may be negatively affected by the earthquake. Thus, I proposed the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 4: Those who experienced the earthquake will have lower hope than will those who did not. …

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