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Crisis Creation: A Methodological Tour

Crisis Creation: A Methodological Tour

(p.49) 2 Crisis Creation: A Methodological Tour
Democracy at Risk
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes the methodology used to evaluate the effects of the threat of terrorist attacks (and other threats) on public opinion and behavior. It provides a brief overview of the evidence gathered from both experiments and surveys and discusses the merits of using experiments. Given its concern with establishing a causal connection between features of one's political environment (specifically, the presence or absence of a threat) and political behavior, the vast majority of data used in this chapter comes from experiments. The chapter attempts to overcome the problem associated with the overall elevated concerns about terrorism by comparing the terrorist threat condition to a “good-times” condition, in which concerns about terrorism were explicitly lowered so that they might better approximate those that would have been found in a pre-9/11 world. Central to the chapter's theoretical expectations is that people develop attitudes, register evaluations, make decisions, and behave differently in times of threat compared to times of relative calm and well-being.

Keywords:   terrorist threat, terrorism, public opinion, political behavior, experiments, surveys

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