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Gender differences: Viewing TV coverage of terrorism has more negative effect on women

Viewing TV coverage of terrorism has more negative effect on women. This has been shown in a new study from the University of Haifa. "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," said Prof. Moshe Zeidner, one of the authors of the study.

Exposure to television coverage of terrorism causes women to lose psychological resources much more than men, which leads to negative feelings and moodiness. This has been shown in a new study, conducted at the University of Haifa and soon to be published in Anxiety, Stress & Coping, that examined the differences between men and women in a controlled experiment environment.

An earlier study conducted by Prof. Moshe Zeidner of the Department of Counseling and Human Development at the University of Haifa and Prof. Hasida Ben-Zur of the University of Haifa's School of Social Work, has shown that viewing television coverage of terrorism causes viewers to lose psychological resources, such as the sense of significance or success, and causes a feeling of being threatened. The current study set out to examine whether there are differences between men and women in the levels of psychological resource loss.

According to the authors of the new study, earlier research dealing with gender differences in the effects of traumatic events examined data based on questionnaires relating to past experiences. The present study is now taking a new step as it is examining these differences in a controlled experiment environment in which all of the participants are exposed to the same events and report on their feelings immediately following the events.

In order to create such a controlled environment, men and women were shown news video clips reporting on terrorist attacks that took place over the past few years and which resulted in serious casualties. In parallel, two other groups of men and women were shown news coverage of "regular", everyday news events.

The results of this study show that the women who viewed 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 amongst the control groups. The study has also found that the feeling of being threatened and loss of resources has an effect on the senses and lead 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," said Prof. Moshe Zeidner.

Contact: Rachel Feldman
University of Haifa

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