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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We wish to thank Eric Groenendyk, George Marcus, Diana Mutz, Brendan Nyhan, Stuart Soroka, Matteo Vergani, and attendees of the Northwestern University Politics Workshop for their helpful comments. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was funded by an award from the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
© The Author(s) 2021.
- political emotion
- public opinion
- selective news exposure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business, Management and Accounting (all)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations