Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 11-30-2022

Faculty Advisor(s)

C. Ann Gordon


Within the United States, individuals do not appear to possess an accurate understanding of terrorism and the threat it may pose to Americans. This not only creates inaccurate perceptions of the actual risk levels associated with terrorism in the U.S. but a misunderstanding of the potential sources of terrorist threats and the impact they could have on the country. In this paper, I will examine this misunderstanding of contemporary terrorism, particularly in relation to America’s inflated sense of fear and general misplacement of the threat. In order to examine this topic, I have used the Chapman University Survey on American Fears, which is a nationally representative survey conducted in the Early Babbie Research Center at Chapman University. I have found that media plays an important role not only within America’s overall fear of terrorism but within its fear of right-wing, left-wing, and Islamic extremists. I have also found that different media outlets play varying roles in creating these perceptions. Nevertheless, these widespread misconceptions surrounding terrorism pose a threat to the United States because they create an overinflated sense of fear within the general public, put Americans at risk of acts of terrorism stemming from groups of people that have been disregarded as potential threats, and alienate and endanger Islamic populations by pinpointing them as terrorist threats.


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