, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 586-599
Date: 13 Nov 2012

The emergence of emotions and religious sentiments during the September 11 disaster

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Analyzing emotional states under duress or during heightened, life-and-death situations is extremely difficult, especially given the inability of laboratory experiments to replicate the environment and given the inherent biases of post event surveys. This is where natural experiments, such as the pager communications from September 11th can provide the kind of natural experiment emotion researchers have been seeking. We demonstrate that positive and pro-social communications are the first to emerge followed by the slower and lower negative communications. Religious sentiment is the last to emerge, as individual attempt to make sense of event. Additionally we provide a methodological discussion about the preparation and analysis of such natural experiments (the pager message content) and show the importance of using multiple methods to extract the broadest possible understanding.