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Terror threat perception and its consequences in contemporary Britain


Correspondence should be addressed to Robin Goodwin, PhD, School of Social Sciences and Law, Social Science Building, Brunel University, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK (e-mail: This paper was submitted prior to the July 2005 terrorist attacks on the London Underground.


The terrorist attacks of 9/11, and subsequent terrorist acts around the world, have alerted social psychologists to the need to examine the antecedents and consequences of terrorist threat perception. In these two studies, we examined the predictive power of demographic factors (age, gender, location), individual values and normative influences on threat perception and the consequences of this perception for behavioural change and close relationships. In Study 1 (N=100), gender, benevolence values and normative influences were all correlates of threat perception, whilst sense of personal threat was correlated with increased contact with friends and family. In Study 2 (N=240) age, gender, location, and the values of openness to change and hedonism, all predicted threat perception, which, in turn, predicted behavioural change and relationship contact. Such findings point to the important role social psychologists should play in understanding responses to these new terrorist threats.