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.
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