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
Contents of this News Tip:
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.
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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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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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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
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