Study Examines Reactions to Reports of Terrorism: Trends

In the modern media environment, in which reports of terrorist attacks are more frequent than in earlier years, the way in which such information is presented and certain aspects of the information itself are bound to play important roles in how people react. Seeking to investigate the factors that may contribute to certain reactions to these reports, a specialized team at the University of Colorado at Boulder has recently conducted a study involving simulated reports of various terrorism activities. While some differences in reactions among the participants were expected, precise results have produced clear cues for divergence in perspective.

Participants were shown any number of reports on the simulated attacks, and were given a battery of tests to gauge responses and evoked thoughts and feelings as a result of the exposure. The study found that one of the most significant factors that has an impact on the emotional response to the report of a terrorist attack is personality type; those with predominantly feminine personalities were likely to exhibit less anger than those identified as masculine. In terms of actual gender, women displayed a greater degree of anger and criticism in response to simulated reports in which terrorists hailed from enemy countries; men showed more intensely angry responses when presented with reports concerning terrorist activity from allied nations.

The differences in gender and personality type in response to the reports suggests that people may have vastly different reactions to such activities when they occur in reality, based on attributes that are outside of their own control. The study hopes to play a role as a precursor to more advanced work capable of delivering more precise and abundant information to the mental health community and the public at large, making responses to various types of media better understood.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Joni

    Joni

    October 4th, 2009 at 8:59 AM

    So do you think that the media and politicians go to studies like these when determining the best ways to get the public on their sides when they are relaying a story to us all? Probably so. Just another great reason to take much of what you hear with a grain of salt and do your own research before jumping to conclusions based on things that other people are telling you. It may be the truth but then again it may just be presented in a way that is specifically designed to tug at your heartstrings and get you over to their side.

  • Harry

    Harry

    October 5th, 2009 at 2:19 AM

    This is pretty interesting… I though females would react in a coy manner compared to males having anger… but this has completely different results… very thought-provoking…

  • Hillery

    Hillery

    October 5th, 2009 at 2:24 AM

    With growing terrorism activities all over the globe, each one of us must keep in mind that this can have a negative impact on our lives, but should also be confident and not be scared at the same time. The media should research and then report such events in a proper manner that does not seem to cause damage to the viewers.

  • Will

    Will

    October 5th, 2009 at 9:18 AM

    It is no secret that we can easily be manipulated and the media will always use this to their advantage.

  • Paula

    Paula

    October 8th, 2009 at 3:12 PM

    Men in general seem to deal with many more issues with anger, way more than women do. I am not surprised at all to read that this is another area which provokes more anger in men. Maybe they are afraid of dealing with the issues in other ways, ways that may not seem as masculine to them.

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