Fear of terrorism and its correlates in young men and women from the United States and South Korea

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-12-2019-0462
Publication Date29 January 2020
Date29 January 2020
Pages21-32
AuthorFang Hong,Yijing Lin,Mikyung Jang,Amanda Tarullo,Majed Ashy,Kathleen Malley-Morrison
SubjectHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression,conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology,policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
Fear of terrorism and its correlates in
young men and women from the
United States and South Korea
Fang Hong, Yijing Lin, Mikyung Jang, Amanda Tarullo, Majed Ashy and
Kathleen Malley-Morrison
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this studywas to examine associations between fear of terrorismand several
predictors (gender and nationality) and outcomes (moraldisengagement, authoritarianism, aggression
and social anxiety) in the USA and South Korean youngadults. Of particular interest were the potential
moderating and mediating roles of moral disengagement between fear of terrorism and the other
outcomes.
Design/methodology/approach Samples of 251 college students from the USA and 211 college
students from South Korea completed survey packets including measures of fear of terrorism, moral
disengagement,authoritarianism, aggressionand social anxiety.
Findings US participants expressed greater concern about a terrorist threat to their country, while
South Koreans worried more about terrorist threats to their family or themselves. Females in both
countries reported greater fear of terrorism and social anxiety. In both countries, fear of terrorism was
associated with aggression, social anxiety and moral disengagement. Mediation analyses showed that
fear of terrorism exerted a significant direct effect and an indirect effect via moral disengagement on
aggression and authoritarianism in the US sample. Moderation analyses revealed that moral
disengagement moderated the relationship between fear of terrorism and social anxiety in the Korean
sample.
Research limitations/implications This study has the common limitationsof cross-sectional studies;
i.e. it cannotprove causal relationships.
Practical implications The findings support Albert Bandura’s view that efforts to address the
excesses of counterterrorism and other negative outcomes of fear of terrorism, attending to issues of
moral disengagementmay be helpful.
Originality/value The authors findingsprovide support for the view that fear of terrorism is associated
with negative psychologicaland social outcomes and that moral disengagement can play an important
role in those negative outcomes. Moreover, it adds to evidence that the negative role of moral
disengagementshows considerable generalizabilityacross gender and twovery different cultures.
Keywords Culture, Aggression, Moral disengagement, Authoritarianism
Paper type Research paper
Talk of terrorism is pervasive, as illustrated in concerns regarding potential terrorist
threats at the 2018 Olympics in the Republic of Korea (Bedard, 2018). Although
international efforts to address terrorist threats have been undertaken by the
governments of both the USA (Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent
Extremism) and the Republic of Korea (Jung, 2010), surprisingly little psychological
research has been done in either the USA or Republic of Korea (henceforth called South
Korea) or elsewhere concerning the fear of terrorism and its correlates. There is some
evidence that moral disengagement and authoritarianism may play a role in angry and
aggressive responses to fear of terrorism but to our knowledge nobody has tested a model
Fang Hong is based at the
Department of Psychological
and Brain Sciences,
Northeastern University,
Shenyang, China. Yijing Lin is
based at the Department of
Psychological and Brain
Sciences, Boston University,
Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Mikyung Jang is based at the
Department of Psychology,
Korea National Open
University, Jongno-gu,
Republic of Korea.
Amanda Tarullo is based at the
Department of Psychological
and Brain Sciences, Boston
University, Boston,
Massachusetts, USA.
Majed Ashy is based at the
McLean Hospital,
Developmental BioPsychiatry
Research Program, Harvard
Medical School, Boston,
Massachusetts, USA.
Kathleen Malley-Morrison is
based at the Department of
Psychological and Brain
Sciences, Boston University,
Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Received 5 December 2019
Revised 21 December 2019
22 December 2019
Accepted 22 December 2019
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-12-2019-0462 VOL. 12 NO. 1 2020, pp. 21-32, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 21

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