Attitudes and reactions to media coverage of terrorist acts



The present study examined attitudes and reactions of individuals towards media coverage of terrorist acts. Shortly after a series of severe terrorist attacks had taken place in Israel, 534 people were asked to fill out a questionnaire that assessed their attitudes and reactions to the media's coverage of these acts as well as a questionnaire that examined their information-seeking style. The results suggested that although a considerable proportion of media consumers preferred detailed coverage of terrorist acts, when the coverage included horrifying details, the readiness for receiving detailed information declined. In addition, the results indicated that exposure to such coverage was associated with the development of symptoms similar to those of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Finally, individual differences in both attitudes and reactions towards media coverage were found as a function of participants' gender, political orientation, and information-seeking style. The theoretical and empirical implications of these findings are discussed. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.