Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-4-2019

Faculty Advisor(s)

Ann Gordon


The impact of traditional versus social media on people’s fears of a mass shooting is a matter worthy of study given the scarcity of research and analysis. Many studies have been conducted evaluating the connection between local TV news and fear, showing that the consumption of local TV news has increased people's fear of crimes. More recently, social media has caused a shift in the distribution of news, with increasing numbers of people turning to platforms like Twitter and Facebook to receive their daily news. There have been few studies examining the relationship between social media usage and one’s fear of crime, particularly one’s fear of mass shootings. According to data collected by Chapman University in their Survey of American Fears, social media usage appears to increase one’s fear of being a victim of a mass shooting in comparison to most other forms of media consumption measured in the study (i.e. local and national newspapers, national nightly and local TV news, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, talk radio show, and online news websites). Media consumption, however, isn’t the only variable found to have a relationship with a person’s fear of being a victim of a mass shooting. Among the interesting findings, gender also influences a person’s fear of being a victim of a mass shooting; women tend to have higher levels of fear than men. The vulnerability model partially explains this correlation between gender and fear. In this article I will explore people’s fear of being victims of a mass shooting. Specifically, I’ll examine the correlation between fear of mass shootings and different media sources. I will also consider other variables, like gender and age, how affect people’s mass shootings fear. I seek to provide an explanation for the high levels of fear of mass shootings for each of these variables, but with particular emphasis on social media given its increased prominence in the past decade that requires more scholarly attention.


Presented at the Fall 2019 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.