, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 69-84
Date: 19 Feb 2009

A Preventive Coping Perspective of Individual Response to Terrorism in Canada

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A plethora of studies on terrorism underscores the challenges of managing the psychological and behavioural impacts of terrorist events. This literature also emphasizes the idea that the global pending threat of terrorism, prior to the occurrence of any event, may also give rise to significant reactions among members of the public. Drawing from the literature on proactive coping, the current study presents the results of factor analyses performed on sections of a national survey that assessed appraisals of as well as actual responses to the threat of terrorism in Canada (N = 1,502). Findings revealed that items assessing individual response to terrorism were represented by three factors in this context: Individual Preparedness, Information Seeking, and Avoidance Behaviour. Further analyses demonstrated a tendency for actual preparedness behaviours to be associated with decreased psychological stress, and actual avoidance behaviours to be associated with heightened psychological stress. Furthermore, the divergent patterns of relationships of terrorism response appraisals and corresponding actual responses with psychological stress emphasized the need to distinguish different stages in the process of preventive coping with terrorism. Theoretical and practical implications of findings for individual preparedness in Canada are discussed.

This project received funding from the CBRNE Research and Technology Initiative (CRTI), the McLaughlin Research Chair on Psychosocial Aspects of Risk and Health, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Mélanie Clément, Wayne Corneil, Daniel Krewski, Michelle C. Turner, and Michael G. Tyshenko to the project.