Changes in values and ways of knowing among three generations of Israeli women of Ethiopian origin

Oshrat Sulika Rotem, Michael Weinstock, Patricia M. Greenfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Referring to Greenfield's (2009) theory of social, cultural, and developmental change, this study examines value and epistemological differences among three generations of women of Ethiopian origin whose families immigrated to Israel. Adapted from social dilemmas used with other populations, we created 12 short stories about people of Ethiopian origin facing dilemmas, with one character giving a response reflecting values or epistemology consistent with the social ecology prevalent in the rural villages of Ethiopia and the other character giving responses reflecting mainstream values and epistemology consistent with the dominant social ecology found in Israel. 13 grandmothers, 23 mothers, and 21 adolescent high-school girls were asked to say which characters they agreed with in the dilemmas. As predicted by Greenfield's theory, quantitative analyses indicate a historical trend towards the value of gender equality and relativistic epistemology across the three generations. Responses to family commitment dilemmas were less consistent than for the other topics. Qualitative analyses of three of the dilemmas, one from each category, did reflect the shifts expected according to the theory. Grandmothers tended to endorse values of gender hierarchy and assigned roles, obligation to the family, and a single, authoritative perspective on knowledge. The adolescent girls tended to endorse greater gender equality and choice of roles, commitment to individuals in the close family while maintaining autonomy, and diverse sources and perspectives on knowledge. The mothers’ responses tended to fall between those of the other two generations. Many interviewees of each generation explicitly contrasted the values and epistemologies of Ethiopia and Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100186
JournalCurrent Research in Ecological and Social Psychology
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Africa
  • Cultural values
  • Ecological change
  • Ethiopian immigrants to Israel
  • Middle East
  • Social change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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