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When Data Do Not Matter: Exploring Public Perceptions of Terrorism


Public perceptions of terrorism are out of line with reality. How can perceptions be changed? Using a 4 × 2 experimental design with a national sample of U.S. adults, we examine how source of information and details provided impact views of terrorism. Sources, details, and individual-level factors—Islamophobia, trust in media, and trust in science—impact perceived accuracy of terrorism data. Many people updated their views on terrorism after reading factual information, yet only trust in science was related with this change. In short, people can be persuaded by factual information on terrorism, but it is less clear why they change beliefs.

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Kearns, Erin M., Allison E. Betus, and Anthony F. Lemieux. 2019. "When Data Do Not Matter: Exploring Public Perceptions of Terrorism." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (January). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1057610X.2018.1543145

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