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Fear is an alarming emotion that is aroused by any danger or perceived threat. It is an emotion that helps us survive occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. Terrorism is the use of violence to create fear for a political or ideological goal. The fear that terrorism has on people escalated highly after in-voluntary terrorist attacks around the world. The effect being that it creates a fear of danger in people’s minds affecting them highly in everyday life. The effect of terrorism varies among people; most have a multivariate aggression of worry and avoidance, including demographic factors, estimated color-coded alert levels, and daily activities.
Much of the effect of terrorism comes from different types of demographic factors. The effects of these demographic factors correlate into the psychological minds of people to determine an arousing fear from such various activities. Recent studies show that before and after terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 have raised fear on people’s minds of an on-coming terrorist attack. The events of September 11, 2001, influenced well-being and security beyond the regions directly attacked (Tseng & others 168-174). Many people throughout the United States felt they were at risk from terrorism. Risk perceptions, along with antiterrorism program, laws, and policies affected Americans’ lifestyles and behaviors. In the months following the attacks, 40% to 50% of US adults still feared for their safety (Silver RC & others 1235-1244) and 11% reported changed behaviors such as avoiding public gatherings (Blendon RJ, Benson JM survey).
Risk perception theories and research posit that individuals assess risks based on a balance of many factors, including the probability of a hazard or risk personally affecting them, the severity of the personal consequences from risk exposure, feelings of personal control, the perceived inequality of risk distribution across society, and trust in institutions managing risks (Gilk & others 168-174). For instance, a national survey conducted 2 months after the attacks of September 11 found that the distance between one’s home and the World Trade Center was inversely correlated with perceptions of terrorism risk among non-Hispanic Whites (Solvic P, Fischhoff B, 14-20). By contrast, Latinos’ and African Americans’ judgments of future terror risks were not affected by how far they lived from New York City (Fischoff B, Gonzalez RM, 137-151).
The Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) is a post-September 11 program that may influence risk perceptions and avoidant behavior although that is not its intended purpose (Long & others 164-174). The HSAS announces the Department of Homeland Security’s assessed risk of a terrorist attack on the United States via a color coded threat level and disseminates information regarding that level’s risk to public safety officials and the general public (Asch & others 164-174). The HSAS has 5 color-coded conditions: green, blue, yellow, orange, and red corresponding to threat levels of low, guarded, elevated, high, and severe, respectively (Long & others 164-174). At each level are recommended actions for the public and government agencies to implement to reduce the “likelihood or impact of an attack” (US Department of Homeland Security). The value of the HSAS is debated, considering its adverse effects on well-being cause by unnecessarily raising fears and anxieties (Aguirre 103-115).
The estimation of personal risk and vulnerability to terrorism may act as a key motivator to behavioral adaptations, including avoidance of usual activities or increased adoption of protective behaviors (Lindell 461-501). Those who believe they are particularly vulnerable to a risk may be motivated to perform risk reduction. Studies document that vulnerable populations, such as chronically ill, the physically disabled, non white racial/ ethnic minorities, and immigrants, bear a disproportionate burden of harm from natural disasters (Fothergill 156-173) and that there are racial/ ethnic differences in perceived risks of natural disasters (Fothergill 156-173).
Similarly, research finds specifically that African Americans and Latinos perceive they are at greater risk from terrorism than do non-Latino whites (Boscarino 505-513). A survey conducted less than a year after September 11, 2001, reported that African Americans were most likely to limit their outside activities and change their mode of transportation in response to fears of terrorism (Torabi 179-192). Also a national survey found that persons with disabilities were more anxious about their personal risk from terrorism than were persons without disabilities, even when equally prepared (Harris Interactive Inc.). Another study reported that persons who increased their disaster preparations in response to the possibility of terrorist attacks included African Americans, Latinos, Persons with disabilities or household dependents, and non US-born populations (Eiseman 1-6).
As with health and disasters generally, these populations may experience disparities in the effects of terrorism and terrorism policies including their risk perceptions and avoidant behavior (Long & others 164-174). An Israeli survey found that large social groups, including women, had adapted their daily behaviors to minimize the impact of terrorism risks (Kirschenbaum 1-33). As studies continue to document the long-term and indirect health effects of September 11 attacks, it remains important to understand how long these risk perceptions and behavioral effects have lasted and who have been most affected (Asch & others 164-174).
Fear the distressing emotion that is aroused by danger and pain has been shown in terrorism highly. Many people are shown with adverse effects of this daily and must cope with it in their own difficult ways. The fear of terrorism has been escalated highly to a standpoint of psychological and physical pain. The effect of terrorism varies among people; most have a multivariate aggression of worry and avoidance, including demographic factors, estimated color-coded alert levels, and daily activities. The fear of terrorism affects everyone in their own ways.
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