Anger, Anxiety, and Selective Exposure to Terrorist Violence

Leonie Huddy, Oleg Smirnov, Keren L.G. Snider, Arie Perliger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the political consequence of exposure to widely available video content of terror violence. In a two-wave survey of Americans, we assess who is exposed to, and seeks out, terror-related video content in the first wave and then observe who decides to watch raw video footage of the Boston marathon terror attack in the second. We focus centrally on anxiety and anger as differing emotional reactions to the threat of terrorism and document their influence on exposure to terror violence. Anxiety generates avoidance of violent terror content whereas anger increases its consumption. Moreover, we find that anger increases exposure to violent terror content and in addition enhances support for punitive and retaliatory anti-terrorism policy. We discuss the implications of our findings for the broader dynamics of terrorist violence and the emotional basis of selective news exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1764-1790
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • political emotion
  • public opinion
  • selective news exposure
  • terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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