Post-war Collectivism, National Identification, and Social Uncertainty in Aceh, Indonesia

By Rolf Holtz and Fajran Zain.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations: Annual Review

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We examined how experiences during the recent thirty-year civil conflict in Aceh, Indonesia predicted vertical (VC) and horizontal (HC) collectivism, national identification, and uncertainty/fear. 215 respondents from Aceh completed measures of brutal experiences during the civil conflict using the Triandis (1996) INDCOL scale of vertical and horizontal collectivism (VC or HC) and individualism (VI or HI), a measure of identification with the Acehnese people, and a measure of social uncertainty that focused on respondents’ perceived security within the post-conflict province of Aceh. As expected, brutal wartime experiences were associated with increments in VC. These experiences were unrelated to HC or either type of individualism. Mediation analyses conducted to assess the differences between the two types of collectivism and their links to uncertainty and fear showed that uncertainty and fear were predicted by both VC and HC when both types of collectivism scores were entered into a regression equation simultaneously. Step 2 also fulfilled a requirement for performing this analysis by demonstrating that the mediator, i.e., identification with other Acehnese citizens, was associated with VC and with HC. Steps three and four examined the regression of both types of collectivism on uncertainty and fear when entered into the analysis together with the national identity mediator. This analysis retained VC as a direct predictor of uncertainty and fear without the mediation of national identification (β = –.23, p < .001). However, the relationship between HC and uncertainty/fear disappeared (β = –.08), leaving the relationship between national identification and uncertainty/fear intact (β = –.28, p < .001). Thus, horizontal collectivism was found to predict fearful uncertainty in post-conflict Aceh, but only when respondents felt a strong sense of kinship with Acehnese citizens and their culture. Discussion focuses on the interactive contributions of war, collectivism, and uncertainty in the development of a post-war national unity.

Keywords: Civil War, Victimization, Cultural Orientation, Collectivism, National Identification, Post-war Trauma, Fear and Uncertainty

The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations: Annual Review, Volume 12, 2012, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 544.836KB).

Dr. Rolf Holtz

Professor of Social Psychology, Department of Counseling and Psychology, College of Education, Troy University, Troy, Alabama, USA

Rolf Holtz is a social-organizational psychologist whose research examines global cultural orientations to intergroup relations. Currently, his work focuses on vertical and horizontal collectivism as mediators of brutal civil war experiences that contribute to either authoritarian attitudes or forgiveness in the aftermath of war. His related research investigates the influence of culture in the link between disgust and attitudes toward survivors of war who are physically disabled or disfigured. He has a Ph.D. in social psychology and an MS.Ed in educational psychology from the University of Southern California. He earned his B.A. degree at the University of Washington. He has taught at Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas), Ohio State University (Lima, Ohio), and the University of Florida. He is currently an associate professor at Troy University in Troy, Alabama (USA).

Mr Fajran Zain

Political Analyst, The Aceh Institute, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia & The Aceh Institute, Banda Aceh, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Fajran Zain, M.Si., MA. Fajran Zain is a political analyst and editor of the Journal of Aceh Studies SEUMIKEE. He was a Fulbright grantee and received a masters degree in Cognitive Psychology from Ball State University (BSU), Muncie, Indiana, USA during 2005–2007. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Political Psychology from the Australian National University (ANU) under the scheme of the Australian Research Council (ARC). He is actively contributing his ideas through mass media and presentations at national and international conferences. Some of his works and books include (a) Tragedi Anak Bangsa: Peristiwa Pembantaian Tgk Bantaqiah, 2002, (b) Toward a New Aceh Society, 2005, (c) Timang: Aceh, Perempuan dan Kesetaraan, 2008, (d) Riyeuk: Aceh, Pluralisme dan Inisiatif, 2009, (e) Rangkeum 2009, and (f) Geunap Aceh: Perdamaian bukan Tanda Tangan. His research interests are: transitional justice, peace and conflict studies, political and intergroup behavior.