‘Women feel more anxiety from news reports on terror’

Researchers said the reason is gender socialization - women are “taught” to react to terrorism with more anxiety than men.

October 27, 2011 03:42
1 minute read.
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Rape victim. (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)


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A new University of Haifa study has found that Israeli women respond to terrorism shown on TV with more anxiety than do men.

Researchers said the reason is gender socialization, that women are “taught” to react to it with more anxiety than men. Prof. Moshe Zeidner, one of the authors, said that exposure to TV coverage of terrorism causes women to “lose psychological resources much more than men, which leads to negative feelings and moodiness.”

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The study, which will soon be published in the journal Anxiety, Stress & Coping, examined the differences in reactions between men and women in a controlled experiment environment.

An earlier study conducted by Zeidner, who works in the university’s department of counseling and human development, and Prof. Hasida Ben- Zur from the university’s school of social work, showed that viewing TV coverage of terrorism causes viewers to lose their sense of significance and causes them to feel threatened.

The recent study set out to examine whether there are differences between men and women in the levels of psychological resource loss.

During the experiment, the male and female participants watched the same television events and reported on their feelings immediately after viewing them. They were shown news video clips from over the last few years reporting on terrorist attacks which resulted in serious casualties. In parallel, two other groups of men and women were shown news coverage of routine news stories.

The results of this study show that the women who viewed the terrorism coverage testified to higher levels of feeling threatened and lower levels of psychological resources compared to the men who viewed the same news reports. These gender differences were not found among the control groups. The study has also found that the feeling of being threatened and loss of resources had an effect on the senses, and led to a higher level of negativity, such as hostility and moodiness.

“It is possible that the differences between men and women are founded in gender socialization, teaching women to respond to terrorism with more anxiety than men,” Zeidner said.

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