The Psychological Effects of Terrorism

Shelly C. McArdle, Heather Rosoff, Richard S. John (2012), “The Dynamics of Evolving Beliefs, Concerns Emotions, and Behavioral Avoidance Following 9/11: A Longitudinal Analysis of Representative Archival Samples,” Risk Analysis v. 32, pp. 744­761.

Abstract: September 11 created a natural experiment that enables us to track the psychological effects of a large-scale terror event over time. The archival data came from 8,070 participants of 10 ABC and CBS News polls collected from September 2001 until September 2006. Six questions investigated emotional, behavioral, and cognitive responses to the events of September 11 over a five-year period. We found that heightened responses after September 11 dissipated and reached a plateau at various points in time over a five-year period. We also found that emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions were moderated by age, sex, political affiliation, and proximity to the attack. Both emotional and behavioral responses returned to a normal state after one year, whereas cognitively-based perceptions of risk were still diminishing as late as September 2006. These results provide insight into how individuals will perceive and respond to future similar attacks.

Posted on August 30, 2012 at 9:22 AM4 Comments


Danny August 30, 2012 2:15 PM

“Poll participants were contacted via phone calls by ABC or CBS News employees. Each poll was conducted using random-digit dialing and conducted in a manner to achieve a stratified sample by census region, metropolitan versus nonmetropolitan areas, average income of the area, households versus businesses, and respondents’ age and sex.” (end of quote)
How the heck did they know that from a random-digit dialing? Or they just kept calling people until the number of each category was reached? And if is the latter then why they did not included in the study the “extra” they got?
Kind of not so trusting study Bruce.

jon doh! August 30, 2012 3:53 PM

Or they just kept calling people until the number of each category was reached
When I worked calling for phone surveys, they usually had a set number of people, and an within that a number of different types in each pool. Towards the end we would start needing rarer “types” of people. So maybe “5 people under 30 that have driven a Ford over 100,000 miles”. or “2 males between 25 and 40 who are the primary grocery shoppers in the household and have never tried salty snacks”. It could get pretty frustrating, and sometimes led to the survey takers fudging on the answers, but that was usually caught in the QA department, who rigorously rescreened each participant. Too many cut from the original respondents list and we’d get financial penalties and/or be forced to eat the cost to make them back up.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.