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A Multi-Method, Multi-Hazard Approach to Explore the Uniqueness of Terrorism Risk Perceptions and Worry1

Authors

  • Jennifer E.C. Lee,

    Corresponding author
    1. GAP-Santé Research Unit
      Institute of Population Health and School of Psychology
      University of Ottawa
      Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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  • Louise Lemyre,

    1. GAP-Santé Research Unit
      Institute of Population Health and School of Psychology
      University of Ottawa
      Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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  • Daniel Krewski

    1. McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment
      Institute of Population Health and Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine
      University of Ottawa
      Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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  • 1

    This research was supported by a contribution agreement from Health Canada (“Public Perception and Acceptable Levels of Health Risk Among Canadians”), as well as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada through a doctoral fellowship to the first author. The authors thank Kevin Brand, Louise Bouchard, Christine Dallaire, and Pierre Mercier for their help with the development of the survey questionnaire. The contributions of Graham M. Gaylord, Marie-Pierre L. Markon, and Michelle C. Turner are also acknowledged.

Jennifer E. C. Lee (who is now at Defence Research and Development Canada), GAP-Santé Research Unit, Desmarais Hall, University of Ottawa, 55 Laurier Avenue East, Room 3217, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5, Canada. E-mail: jeclee@alumni.uottawa.ca

Abstract

Developing ways to manage terrorism effectively requires a better understanding of how the public perceives this threat. In the present study, Canadians' perceptions of terrorism risk and 4 other hazards were assessed using a word-association technique and rating scales reflecting key cognitive dimensions of risk (threat, uncertainty, control) and worry reactions. Data were collected in a national telephone survey. Canadians perceived terrorism as posing a lower threat, as more uncertain, and as less controllable, compared to the other hazards. Positive associations of perceived threat and of perceived uncertainty with worry about terrorism were observed. However, perceived control was unexpectedly positively associated with worry about terrorism. The findings also suggest that additional social contextual factors should be examined in future research.

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