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News Tip


July 30, 2002

The Effects of 9/11: Preliminary Studies

Researchers studying the social impact of September 11 are now better able to analyze public responses in the U.S. and abroad. These news tips highlight a few examples of work in this area supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

For more information on these science news and feature story tips, please contact the public information officer at the end of each item at (703) 292-8070. Editor: Josh Chamot

Study Finds Egyptians More Concerned About Western Cultural Invasion

After the events of September 11, Egyptian citizens became more concerned about the "Western cultural invasion," according to a recently completed survey supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). At the same time, they became more favorable toward democracy and gender equality, less favorable toward religious authorities, and more critical of the way their country is run.

The study, "The Impact of 9/11 on Value Orientations of the Islamic Public in Egypt," is part of a continuing NSF-supported study of public attitudes in Islamic countries undertaken by Mansoor Moaddel, professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University. NSF is sponsoring a conference in Cairo from February 24 to 28 on public attitudes in the Middle East.

Prior to September 11, Moaddel organized surveys of Jordan and Iran as well as Egypt. Moaddel is replicating the surveys in these countries to explore the post-9/11 impact on people's world views.

The Egyptian attitude survey shows that following 9/11, 71 percent of the people said Western "cultural invasion" is a very important problem, compared with 63 percent before the tragedy.

After 9/11, 69 percent of Egyptians strongly agreed with the statement that democracy is better than any other system, compared with 56 percent who believed that previously. After 9/11, 34 percent strongly agreed that men are better political leaders, compared with 49 percent before; and 57 percent said religious authorities adequately responded to social problems, compared with 81 percent earlier.

The study also showed that people with more education are more concerned about the invasion of Western cultural values, more favorable toward democracy and the education of women, and less favorable toward religious authority. [Bill Harms]

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City Residences Less Popular After 9/11

The 9/11 tragedy prompted people to have second thoughts about where they want to live, even if that residence is not in New York City or Washington, D.C. NSF-supported researchers at Ohio State University found that the terrorist events led people to become more interested in living in low-density suburbs or other communities away from the central city.

Hazel Morrow-Jones, associate professor of city and regional planning, Elena Irwin, assistant professor of agriculture, development and environmental economics and their co-researchers conducted a random survey of residents of Franklin County, Ohio, after 9/11. The researchers compared the data to housing and neighborhood satisfaction survey responses from earlier in the summer of 2001. Columbus is Ohio's capital and its largest city, and Franklin County is the central county of the Columbus metropolitan area.

Preliminary results indicate that the tragedy prompted a strengthening of social ties within neighborhoods and reduced a desire to move. About one quarter of the people surveyed after the event said they were concerned about a possible terrorist attack in Franklin County and those concerned with this possibility were much less likely to consider moving to downtown Columbus. Among the entire survey group, which included 803 respondents, the only variable that was important in people's hypothetical choice of housing after 9/11 was the density of neighborhoods. Living in a low-density suburb or rural community came to the top of people's priorities, exceeding the usual concerns about finding good schools and reducing commuting time that had been the key items in the survey taken just before 9/11. [Bill Harms]

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Positive Outlook Aids Americans Distressed by 9/11

The search for goodness in oneself and others, or a form of behavior called "moral cleansing," led to recovery for many Americans distressed by 9/11 events. Those people who made efforts to improve themselves or did something positive, such as donate blood or fly an American flag, were more likely to become politically tolerant and come to an earlier sense of closure after the events, according to NSF-supported research by a University of Illinois team led by Linda Skitka, associate professor of psychology, and researchers Christopher Bauman and Elizabeth Mullen.

The scientists also found that people who expressed moral outrage over the events were likely to demonstrate higher levels of political intolerance. However, particularly angry and vengeful people were more likely to try to alleviate distress by engaging in moral cleansing, which led to closure and tolerance.

The research team presents their preliminary findings in a paper entitled "With Malice Toward Some and Charity Toward Others: Understanding the Connection Between Threat and Political Tolerance." Researchers based their findings on national random surveys taken immediately after the attack and four months later. [Bill Harms]

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Russian Opinion Split on Support of U.S. War on Terror

Russian public opinion is evenly split on supporting the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and opposed to the extension of the war on terrorism to other countries, according to the preliminary findings of an NSF-supported survey, "Russian Geopolitical Culture and the 9/11 Attacks and Response."

The research was a collaboration between John O'Loughlin, professor of geography, University of Colorado-Boulder; Gerard Toal, associate professor of geography, Virginia Tech University, and Vladimir Kolossov, professor at the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.

The team analyzed an April 2002 survey of 1,800 people from across Russia. The survey team found that 44 percent of those questioned felt the U.S. action against the Taliban was correct, while 40 percent felt it was incorrect. Among Russian Islamic populations surveyed, 25 percent supported the anti-Taliban actions, while 61 percent felt the action by the U.S. was incorrect.

In both Islamic and non-Islamic regions of Russia, support was strong against launching wars on other countries to fight terrorism. In non-Islamic regions, 21 percent approved of the action, while 67 percent disapproved. In Islamic regions, 19 percent of the people approved, while 68 percent disapproved. [Bill Harms]



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