How news coverage of terrorism may shape support for anti-Muslim policies

Terrorist attacks committed by the so-called Islamic State are rising in Western countries. A new Political Psychology study indicates that how the news media portray these attacks may influence emotional responses and support for anti-Muslim policies such as immigration bans.

For the study, investigators developed a model to explain how threat components—such as threat severity (i.e., portrayed number of offenders) and threat controllability (i.e., diffuse versus non-diffuse terror threat)—of terrorism news coverage influence news consumers' emotional reactions and subsequent policy support.

The study found that featuring a high number of offenders increase individuals' fear of terror, irrespective of whether the threat is portrayed as controllable or not. News articles featuring a low number of offenders only evoke fear of terror if the threat is portrayed as diffuse. Also, news articles emphasizing a high number of offenders combined with a controllable terrorism threat elicit anger on the government. Both anger and fear of terror subsequently increase support for anti-Muslim policies.

The findings may spur discussions on how to deal with terrorism in maintaining a healthy and inclusive democracy.


Explore further

Great disparities exist in how news media cover terror attacks

More information: Jörg Matthes et al, Terror, Terror Everywhere? How Terrorism News Shape Support for Anti-Muslim Policies as a Function of Perceived Threat Severity and Controllability, Political Psychology (2019). DOI: 10.1111/pops.12576
Provided by Wiley
Citation: How news coverage of terrorism may shape support for anti-Muslim policies (2019, February 21) retrieved 19 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-02-news-coverage-terrorism-anti-muslim-policies.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
4 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more