April 22, 2002


Carnegie Mellon experiment reveals impact of fear, anger on American perceptions of terrorism (Teresa Thomas, 9-Apr-2002, Carnegie Mellon University)
A national field experiment by Carnegie Mellon University scientists on American emotions and perceptions of the risk of terrorist threats following September 11 reveals a national psyche influenced in opposite ways by fear and anger. [...]

The Carnegie Mellon team drew four major conclusions from the study:

* 1) Americans who experience anger are more optimistic about the future, less likely to take precautionary actions, and more likely to favor aggressive policy responses than those who experience fear. [...]

* 3) Men experience more anger about terrorism than women, leading them to be more optimistic than women. [...]

The Carnegie Mellon study also discovered that males (ages 13-88) were less pessimistic about risks than were females-because they were angrier. "The striking difference in risk perception between males and females is due to males experiencing greater anger and females greater fear," Lerner said.

Here, in microcosm, we see a central theory of the Brothers Judd being played out. It is our contention that all of human existence can be explained by the competing desires for freedom or security. And we have hypothesized that the gender gap we see in politics is largely a function of the fact that men, who have less need to feel physical fear, tend to be more optimistic about their ability to fend for themselves and therefore welcome freedom, while women, historically oppressed and physically weaker, look to government to protect them and provide security. This study tends to confirm our theories. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 22, 2002 10:18 AM
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