As a part of the fourteenth wave of the “Ukraine during the war” project, Sociological Group “Rating” conducted another study of psychological markers: the levels of resilience and psychological exhaustion as well as the acceptability of entertainment during the war.
SOCIO-ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE CITIZENS OF UKRAINE
• The share of the respondents who have been forced to leave their place of permanent residence since February 24, 2022, remains practically unchanged. In contrast to previous measurements, the share of the internally displaced persons from the eastern and southern regions is increasing, and the share of those from the central regions is decreasing.
• 87% of the surveyed IDPs express their intention to return home: 15%, soon, 24% want to return, but are going to wait, and 48% will return, but after the end of the war. 8% said that they will not return home. Compared to April of this year, the share of those who plan to return immediately is decreasing, while the share of those who either will return after the war, or not at all, is increasing.
• The gradual return of the citizens of Ukraine to their workplaces continues. Today, 38% of those who worked before the war have returned to their regular jobs, while 18% are working remotely, and 7% have found a new job. Despite this, a third of such respondents are still not employed. Most of the latter are among the youngest and the oldest respondents, as well among women and among the residents of the East and the South of the country. In terms of dynamics, the best situation with returning to work is among the residents of the Center and West of Ukraine and the worst one is among the residents of the East.
LEVEL OF RESILIENCE
• During the fourth month of the war, Ukrainians continue to demonstrate a good level of resilience (3.8 points out of 5). The components of this indicator – psychological resilience (3.9) and maintaining physical health (3.7) – did not change significantly, although they slightly decreased compared to April.
• Curiosity about what is happening around (4.4), normal nutrition (4.2), having plans for the future (4.2), confidence in one's decisions (4.0) and the absence of regrets about the past (4.0) primarily contribute to the relatively high index of psychological resilience.
• Today, Ukrainians suffer most from fatigue (only 36% do not feel it) and lack of adequate sleep (only 44% have adequate sleep). Such reactions of the body are natural for stress. Despite this, other emotional and moral indicators of citizens are better.
• Women have a lower level of resilience than men. With age, resilience decreases, too. Having a job has a positive effect on resilience: those who are working full-time or part-time feel better than those who are not working.
• The more a person believes that it is necessary to live a full life, the higher their level of resilience is. Those who have relatives who are fighting in the war today have a higher level of resilience. This is perhaps explained by a heightened sense of responsibility and concern for the loved ones who are in potential danger.
• In the regional terms, the residents of the East of the country, where today the main front line runs, as well as the most destruction and deaths take place, have the worst level of resilience.
• For all groups of the respondents, psychological resilience (3.9) is higher than the indicators of physical condition (3.7). The war physically exhausted Ukrainians to a bigger extent, while psychological endurance is still better.
• The dynamics of the resilience index has somewhat worsened over the past 2 months. The resilience index has slightly decreased since April (from 3.9 to 3.8). However, Ukrainians still have enough physical and moral strength to live during the war, to work, to help, and to fight. The summer period is favorable in this case: the length of the day and the solar activity usually have a positive effect on mood and well-being. The most negative changes occurred with interest in the life around and with nutrition, as well as with the plans for the future and with the regrets about the past.
LEVEL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EXHAUSTION
• The dynamics of our studies of the emotional states of Ukrainian citizens for the period from March 2020 to June 2022 shows that the changes in their day-to-day assessment of their emotional stress are insignificant. The peak of stress was observed at the beginning of April 2022 (3.5). But as of June 2022, a gradual return to the indicators of the “peaceful” time is observed (2.9). It is probably an emotional adaptation to the war, which could be linked both to the reserves of the human psyche and to the external circumstances, which for the majority of citizens have relatively stabilized or at least have become clear and defined.
• 24% of Ukrainians feel calm and very calm. 39% feel tense and very tense. Stress increases with age. Also, stress is more common among women (probably due to their higher sensitivity and the need to take care not only of themselves, but also of their children) and among those who believe that people should restrict themselves during the war – this demand considerably increases stress.
• The index of psychological exhaustion is still quite moderate (2.0). It has not changed in the dynamics from April to June 2022, except for the indicator of trust in people (it decreased). The shares of the respondents who believe that people cannot be trusted and of those who think that something bad may happen to them have increased. The latter tendency is related to the news about the destruction and the casualties and to the realization that there are few left who have not been at least indirectly affected by this.
• The index of psychological exhaustion is mainly “warranted” by the sad mood (2.7) and mistrust of people (2.6). However, Ukrainians still can rely on themselves (1.6) and do not feel “dead” inside (1.4).
• Women, the residents of the East of the country, those who are not working or are retired, those who have changed their place of residence, as well as those who are prone to self-restrictions feel the most exhausted.
TYPES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ADAPTATION TO THE WAR
• The results of our analysis allowed us to distinguish two population groups distinguished by their level of adaptation to war conditions. The “Adapted” ones: have high resilience, do not restrict themselves in pleasures, have low emotional stress and psychological exhaustion, and use more adaptive strategies to overcome stressful situations. The “Not adapted” ones: experience significant emotional stress, tend to restrict themselves in entertainment and pleasures, are exhausted psychologically, and have low resilience. Their strategies for overcoming stress are not effective and often lead to depressed psychological state and to exhaustion.
LIFE DURING THE WAR
• The war evokes a large number of feelings and thoughts, which are often opposite and contradictory; many things no longer have nuances, but become black and white, unambiguous and dogmatic. A person faces a high level of stress, experiences the “survivor's guilt”, the “witness trauma” and other conditions that are associated with war. A change in habitual behavior and priorities is among the consequences of such conditions. Self-blame and restricting oneself in pleasures and in the opportunities to enjoy life or even to live a normal “peaceful life” are increasing.
• Today, 59% of the respondents consider it necessary to significantly limit themselves in entertainment and shopping, while 36%, on the other hand, believe that it is necessary to try to live a full life.
• Young people under the age of 35 are less inclined to self-restrictions (only 46% support it). Also, people who work full-time (55%) or part-time (58%) restrict themselves less, probably believing that their frontline is the economic one (paying taxes, helping the army).
• In general, we did not find significant gender differences in self-restrictions. However, young women under the age of 35 are more likely to try to live a full life (54%), unlike their male peers (44%). One of the important reasons for this difference is the social acceptability of such behavior for women. According to the majority, men have different roles during the war.
• Going to the gym (84%), visiting beauty salons (67%), celebrating own birthday (62%) are the most acceptable practices. The less acceptable ones are outdoors leisure (having a barbecue): 42%, going to restaurants and cafes (37%) and buying expensive food and clothes (36%). Therefore, sports, as a sign of a healthy lifestyle, keeping oneself in good physical shape and taking care of oneself, is a positive behavior allowed during wartime. Other positions are probably considered redundant, those that people can do without. This particularly applies to expensive food and clothes, which are not essential, especially considering the fact that occupied regions or damaged cities suffer from the lack of basic products, clean water, medicine, etc. Therefore, it causes more guilt and is considered an excess.
• The respondents of the older age group (51+) are most prone to restrictions, especially regarding the purchase of expensive food and clothing and eating out. Age differences apply the least to sports and beauty salons. Therefore, the patterns of behavior that cause judgment and self-restrictions are most likely to do so among the older age group. Young people under the age of 35 who try to live a peaceful life and restrict themselves less are least likely to show judgment and self-restrictions.
• In contrast to men, women are also less supportive of the “peaceful life behaviors” with the exception of the visits to beauty salons, where there are no gender differences. Probably, women's favoring beauty salons is not considered a surplus, but a necessity, while men support going to beauty salons because it is a more feminine practice and therefore allowed for women, towards whom there are different requirement during wartime than to men.
• Regarding macro-regional differences: the residents of the West of Ukraine more often consider it unacceptable to celebrate their own birthday and to buy expensive food and clothes.
• Those who believe that it is necessary to restrict oneself during the war consider various activities, excluding going to the gym, to be unacceptable much more often than those who believe that it is necessary to live a full life.
• Also, those whose relatives are fighting in the war are somewhat less inclined to restrict themselves. Perhaps this is due to the fact that they feel less guilty, since someone close to them is already “paying” for their peaceful life.
Audience: the population of Ukraine aged 18 and older in all regions, except for the temporarily occupied territories of the Crimea and Donbas, as well as the territories where there was no Ukrainian mobile connection at the time of the survey. The results are weighted using the current data from the State Statistics Service of Ukraine. The sample is representative in terms of age, gender and type of settlement.
Sample population: 1200 respondents. Survey method: CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews).
The error of representativeness of the study with the confidence probability of 0.95: no more than 2.8%.
Dates: June 18-19, 2022.