Perception of Control and Faith in Experts Among Residents in the Vicinity of Three Mile Island1


  • 1

    The authors wish to thank Robert Holt and John Teske for suggestions. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the APA in Toronto, Canada, August, 1984.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Sandra Prince-Embury, Jersey Shore Medical Center, CMHC, Neptune, NJ. 07754 or James F. Rooney, The Pennsylvania State University, The Capitol College, Middletown, PA 17057.


A survey of residents near the Three Mile Island nuclear generating facility four years after the accident explored the relationship of lack of perceived control over their lives, loss of faith in experts, and TMI-related worry as a function of pre- versus post-accident residence. Findings indicate that for residents who moved into the area after the accident, lack of perceived control relates to TMI-specific worry, whereas for those present at the time of the accident, lack of perceived control relates to loss of faith in experts. Pre- versus post-accident residents also differ in perceived lack of control and loss of faith in experts as a function of educational level.