Massimiliano Scopelliti Maria Giuseppina Pacilli Antonio Aquino

Effects of media exposure on fear of terrorist attacks and change of behavior

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Terrorism is a global problem with huge negative consequences. The negative psychological impact of terrorist attacks can also affect those who indirectly experienced the event, through media coverage. A correlational study was conducted on 429 Italian respondents exposed to media coverage of terrorist attacks in Brussels, Europe. Attitude towards three features of news presentation, namely emotional emphasis, threat for national security, and the unpredictable character of the attacks, as well as fear of new attacks and change in everyday behaviors were measured. Results showed that emotional emphasis and threat for national security – but not the unpredictable character of attacks – perceived in media are significantly associated with fear of new attacks. Moreover, fear of future attacks mediated the effects of both emotional emphasis and the threat for national security on change in everyday behaviors. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


  • terrorism
  • media exposure
  • attitude
  • fear of attacks
  • change of behavior


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