Dr. Jeryl Mumpower, Bush School Professor Emeritus and ISTPP Research Fellow, as part of the ISTPP terrorism team, recently presented a study on the public’s reaction to lone wolf terrorism activity. This study is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation. The bulk of the research team’s analysis evaluates responses to a national public opinion survey they designed and conducted, in which respondents are questioned on their anticipation of future terrorism activity following a single lone wolf terrorist event. The research team evaluates responses to two main questions from the survey. The first question asks individuals, regarding a single terrorist event, whether they individual believe that the likelihood of a similar future attack in the US is higher or lower than they thought it was before the incident occurred. Second, given that some threats are more likely than other types of threats to occur, individuals were asked how to rate the likelihood that a second attack will actually occur over the next 6 months.
Twenty-five percent of respondents exhibited hindsight bias through anticipated greater likelihood of future terrorist activity, whereas 60% of respondents anticipated little to no future attacks, thus exhibiting recollection bias. The research team explains these results in two ways. First, the “Chicken Little” bias refers to an individual’s lack of conformity to the general public’s increased fear of terrorism activity. Second, the “Pollyana” bias refers to an increased fear of terrorist activity, when the general public is not concerned with eminent terrorist activity.
Mumpower, Jeryl. 2020. “Risk Perceptions of the Lone Wolf Terrorism Events: Accuracy, the Hindsight Bias, the Recollection Bias, and the Bias Illusion.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), held virtually November 8-11. Paper co-authored with Xinsheng Liu, Kent Portney, and, Arnold Vedlitz.