Adolescent response in a nuclear age : An exploratory study
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The present study investigates the awareness of New Zealand adolescents towards nuclear issues and towards New Zealand's nuclear prospects in world affairs. A questionnaire was constructed which was used to examine the level of awareness, as well as cognitive, emotional and political reactions to the future in relation to these issues. Five hundred and seventy adolescents (287 males and 283 females) aged 13 to 18 inclusive took part in the study. The results show that the adolescents believed that nuclear war is likely in the future, and that New Zealand has enemies without there being a consensus over the enemies. The results further reveal sex and age differences in attitudes. Females were more pessimistic and less politically knowledgeable than males. Pessimism and cynicism increased with age. The results suggest that while these adolescents were pessimistic about the future in the wider realm, on a personal level they were responding in a positive way with efficacy towards the issues. The qualitative data also indicate that these young people were angry about New Zealand's prospects and towards nuclear issues. Cross-national comparisons are made between the present findings and studies from other nations. The results are further discussed with reference to political socialization and the importance of education in increasing political awareness.