Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-1-2021

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. 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, as well as the prominence mass shootings have gained in American society and media. 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. However, there have been few studies examining the relationship between social media usage and one’s fear of crime. In this paper, I will examine the correlation between fear of mass shootings and different media sources, with particular emphasis on social media given its increased prominence in the past decade. 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). Mediatization helps to explain the impact of media on shaping people's perceptions of mass shootings, which in turn influences their fear of being a victim of one. Media consumption, however, is not 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 and age also influence a person’s fear of being a victim of a mass shooting. The vulnerability model provides a unique lens to view the gender and age variables. This research provides a greater understanding of the fear that grips a large portion of American society, helping to anticipate mental health needs and other means of addressing the issue.


Presented at the virtual Fall 2021 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.