Dr. Kent Portney, ISTPP Director in memoriam, and Dr. Jeryl Mumpower, Bush School Professor Emeritus and ISTPP Research Fellow, have coauthored a study recently published in Environmental Systems and Decisions. For this study, supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, the research team conducted a large, representative US public survey to examine people’s reactions to soft-target terrorist attacks, such as bomb explosions or mass shootings in public areas. This survey gathered data from the same participants in both May and November 2016. During the months between the two surveys, a handful of terrorist attacks took place.
The research team, which included colleagues from the University of Southern California and Decision Research, compared people’s responses from the November survey to their responses in the May survey to identify changes in their reactions over time and the influence of additional terrorist attacks on their reactions. In particular, the researchers focused on responses to questions about perceptions of risk, severity, and likelihood of terrorist attacks and the degree to which people reported experiencing negative emotions when thinking about terrorist attacks. Their analyses indicated that people’s negative affect changed very little over time, while higher amounts of change occurred in perceptions of likelihood and severity of terrorist attacks. In other words, people’s worry and anxiety about terrorist attacks do not appear to change much in response to changes in their risk perceptions of such attacks.
Baucum, Matt, Richard S. John, William Burns, Kent E. Portney, and Jeryl L. Mumpower. 2020. “Modeling Affective and Cognitive Responses to Soft‑Target Terrorism over Time.” Environment Systems and Decisions. (Early view available online.) DOI: 10.1007/s10669-020-09789-6