Differences in Moods Between Jewish and Protestant Children Studied

Preliminary results of a study among Jewish and Protestant 10-year-old schoolboys, in order to establish the differences in the way they experience their environments, were reported here today at a meeting of the board of directors of the National Council of Jewish Women.

The report was presented by Rabbi Zachary Dershowitz, an assistant professor at the Long Island University School of Education, who is making a study of the subject under a grant from the NCJW supplemented by a grant from the U. S. Office of Education. The findings may have much relevance in planning teaching programs for ethnically different groups of children. The study will be completed next January.

The tests show, Rabbi Dershowitz reported, that Jewish children tend to comprehend things as a whole and to have difficulty in separating component parts. The Protestant children, on the contrary, tend to see the parts more easily. In addition, Protestant children tend to have a much stronger sense of self-identification and independence and of their own separateness from their environment. When the two sets of children were asked to draw pictures of themselves and other people, the Protestants drew quite detailed sketches, whereas the Jewish children tended to draw far more generalized figures.

His study, he reported, also seems to confirm some popular beliefs about “Jewish cultural characteristics, “and to show that these persist into the second and third American generations. The tests showed that the Jewish children tend to rely less on their sensory perceptions and more upon their intellects, while the opposite was true of the Protestant children. Jews, he pointed out, have always placed greater emphasis on intellectual than physical achievement.

In another study quoted by Rabbi Dershowitz, when students of different ages and religions were asked to list their major problems, the Jewish students showed a pattern of concern about health. This, he said, may account for the popular joke that “Jewish men never grow up physically — though they do intellectually. They depend first on their mothers, then on their wives, to take care of them physically.”

NEXT STORY