Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 11-30-2022

Faculty Advisor(s)

Ann Gordon


The United States is experiencing a growing threat from domestic terrorism, though there is a relative lack of understanding of this threat by the public, and there is a need to understand how public perceptions of risk have been shaped around the fear of terrorism. This paper explores the impact of various forms of media usage and intake on individual perceptions of terrorism, as well as the ways in which public governmental distrust and party identification relate to the fear of terrorism. Using the results obtained by the Chapman University Survey of American Fears in which data was gathered from a nationally representative sample of adults, these concepts are explored in terms of the specific types of terrorism one fears, whether it be domestic terrorism within the United States or international terrorism connected to distinct foreign governments or groups of other nations. Among the interesting findings, I find that party identification does not play a role in concern and fear about terrorism. However, party identification plays a role in influencing who is perceived to be a terrorist threat in the United States. Additionally, out of all forms of news media the American public consumes, social media has the biggest impact on fear of terrorism. Finally, I find that there is a significant positive correlation between public distrust of the government and the fear of terrorism. The United States government has devoted institutions, such as the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, to preventing future terrorist attacks. These bureaus advocate strongly for antiterrorism laws in the pursuit of lessening terrorism fears, in this way it is important to assess the factors attributing to the degree of public fear over terrorism.


Presented at the Fall 2022 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.