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Keywords:

  • risk perceptions;
  • emotions;
  • terrorism;
  • precautionary actions

Abstract

The current study uses the unique data from a natural experiment conducted in a college located in southern Israel that was exposed to rocket attacks in 2008. The study examines the relationships between the negative emotions, the perceptions of risk to oneself, the precautionary actions, and the intentions of 290 students who were exposed to terror attacks while on campus. In addition, we compared the emotions, the risk perceptions, and the precautionary behavior between the two groups: those who lived within the range of the rockets and were also exposed to rocket attacks at home and those who lived outside the range of the rockets. The results show that the risk perceptions were affected mainly by the emotion of fear while the students were on campus. In particular, fearful people became more pessimistic about their general and personal risks from terror but not about routine risks. The results also reveal that those who lived outside the rocket area (and had less or no experience with terror attacks) were more likely to take precautionary actions during their stay in the campus and were more pessimistic about continuing their studies in college in the coming year than those living in the area, who had more experience with terror attacks. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.