A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Survey findings on Canadian attitudes toward terrorism and counterterrorism

Last month, two researchers from the Canadian Institute of Identities and Migration (CIIM) stopped by START on their Washington, D.C., tour and discussed anxiety trends among Canadian citizens before and after global and domestic terrorism threats.

For an audience of about 20 people, Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Institute of Identities and Migration, provided a detailed analysis of nine consecutive surveys that the CIIM conducted to track Canadian public opinion regarding terrorism.  

These surveys revealed that after a terrorist attack occurs, people’s level of anxiety will rise from the CIIM’s established baseline, but this level of anxiety decreases and returns to the baseline as time passes. However, for the population over the age of 55, the level of anxiety will stay above the baseline.

“It seems this this demographic is most concerned about terrorism in the world,” Jedwab said.

Jedwab and his colleague, Ashley Manuel, assistant director of research at the CIIM, delivered in-depth implications for this phenomenon. As people become more anxious about terrorism threats, they become more willing to give up civil liberties. In addition, as they become more anxious, their confidence in their government’s ability to address terrorism wanes. This fluctuating level of anxiety could affect which and how leaders come into office, as the 55+ population are more inclined to vote, and how leaders address terrorism, according to the researchers.

After the 40-minute presentation, Jedwab and Manuel opened the floor to questions. START interns and faculty discussed Canada’s perception of terrorism depending on its diverse media, younger cohorts’ perception of terrorism as influenced by social media and future directions of the CIIM’s research.  

Manuel was surprised by the number of START interns who attended the presentation.

“It’s always nice to get younger people to think about how terrorism influences people because they’ll bring different things to the table,” Manuel said.  

The CIIM is currently seeking to collaborate with START on future projects that would apply to both Canadian and American audiences. For more information about the CIIM’s research, click here.