Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 95–101

The Logic of Public Fear in Terrorism and Counter-terrorism


DOI: 10.1007/s11896-013-9126-x

Cite this article as:
Braithwaite, A. J Police Crim Psych (2013) 28: 95. doi:10.1007/s11896-013-9126-x


This paper attempts to do two things: to provide a summary overview of the ways in which the academic literature has tended to characterize the role of fear and psychological violence in the process of political terrorism and to advocate for counter-terrorism policies that recognize the importance of fear in this process and attempt to reduce this psychological response or, at least, to not exacerbate it. In completing these two tasks, I initially review the literature for discussions of the role of fear in both common definitions and theories of the use of terrorist violence. I then briefly draw upon the empirical findings of public opinion surveys and polls in the UK and US between 2001 and 2010 to illustrate this fear in practice. Finally, the paper concludes with the suggestion that both theories and real world observations point toward the idea that the most efficient form of counter-terrorism policy is one that mitigates levels of public fear.


Terrorism Counter-terrorism Fear Intimidation Public opinion 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Government & Public PolicyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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