“It may be very unlikely that any one of us will be impacted by a terrorist threat,” he said. “It may be likely that it will happen on American soil, but it’s very unlikely that it will happen to any one of us. But we are hardwired to false alarms over misses.
“Terrorism works because it capitalizes on our tendency to favor false alarms. It leads populations to be fearfully to those situations … even though you’re only victimizing a tiny fraction because we have a tendency to take improbable threats seriously.”
A recent Public Religion Research Institute/Religion News Service poll found that nearly half of Americans surveyed are concerned that they or someone in their family will be a victim of terrorism.
According to the new Times/CBS poll, 44 percent of respondents believe another terror attack is “very likely” to happen in the United States within the next few months. Nearly 80 percent of the public thinks another attack is “very likely” or “somewhat likely,” according to the poll.
And a survey on fear from Chapman University showed that terrorism was already a top concern in the United States, even before the recent attacks. Out of a random sample of more than 1,500 adults, 44 percent said they feared terrorist attacks.
Research shows that when terror strikes and fear takes hold, emotions can lead people to cling to their cultures, beliefs and values to protect themselves from the things they fear the most — mainly death. Likewise, this defense mechanism can also lead people to become hostile toward people or ideas that threaten their way of thinking.