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SBE Science Nuggets NSF
SES Responds to September 11th


Tragically, there are times when researchers must respond quickly to unanticipated events of horrific proportions. September 11th was just such an event, when fundamental perceptions, systems, structures and behaviors that had been taken for granted were suddenly thrown into question.

How will we cope with our shock and grief? Will we ever feel safe again? How can we better understand terrorism? How can we improve our readiness should another attack occur?

NSF's Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) are custom-made for the kind of quick response required in situations of severe urgency when data must be collected quickly. Results from a number of SGER's awarded immediately following September 11th are already providing important insights into this crisis and its aftermath.

Putting Profound Societal Events in Context

Sociology/ Political Science/ Law and Social Science
Americans responded with resolve and determination to September 11th, not fear and cowering, according to results of a September 13th survey by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) funded by the NSF. Not surprisingly, the study showed that negative psychological effects were greatest in New York, with New Yorkers more likely to have: felt very nervous and tense, felt more tired than usual, had trouble getting to sleep, experienced rapid heartbeats or headaches, or felt dizzy. The study also contrasted public response to September 11 with response to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and found less overall negative psychological effects after September 11 than after JFK's assassination. Principal Investigators Kenneth Rasinski and Thomas Smith, both of NORC, also found evidence of increased faith in fellow citizens, increased confidence in selected institutions, and increased feelings of national pride following September 11th.

Also see:
NORC OLPA Press Releases:
http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/press/01/pr0185.htm

Law and Social Science
In a study funded jointly by Law and Social Science and the Political Science Program, researchers found that, in the wake of September 11, Americans revealed a fragile commitment to democratic norms. Responding generally, 45% of American citizens surveyed say they are willing to give up certain civil liberties for greater security. But when asked questions about specific policies to combat terrorism, a majority (in some cases, up to 71%) are willing to give up certain personal freedoms for greater security from terrorist attacks. (Researchers: Brian D. Silver and Darren W. Davis, Michigan State University)

Decision, Risk, and Management Sciences Program
Emotions inform our judgements, in obvious and sometimes not-so-obvious ways. Recent research in the psychology of decision making has demonstrated that race and gender influence the way that people think about risks. Examining people's emotional responses to news of terrorism post-September 11th, researchers Jennifer Lerner and Baruch Fischhoff of Carnegie Mellon University found that men and women differed in their emotional response to the events of September 11 and that this difference was related to a difference in their preferences for policy related to those events. Specifically, men were likely to respond with anger, which led to optimism about the future and a preference for retaliation. In contrast, women were more likely to respond with fear, which led to pessimism about the future and a preference for precautionary measures.

Also see:
OLPA Press Release:
http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/02/tip020419.htm

Political Science Program
Early findings from pilot surveys in Pakistan reveal that the attitudes of the Pakistani public are strongly linked to democratic principles, such as tolerance of outgroups, interpersonal trust, and freedom of expression. This, in spite of the fact that many Pakistanis consider Western cultural influences dangerous and decadent. Led by Principal Investigator Ronald Inglehart of the University of Michigan, the investigation is part of the World Values Surveys, a worldwide investigation of sociocultural and political change carried out by a network of international social scientists.

Sociology
In an effort to compare pre- and post-September 11th attitudes and value orientations of the Islamic public in Egypt, Iran and Morocco, Principal Investigator Mansoor Moaddel of Eastern Michigan University has returned to the field to build on previous NSF-funded research in those countries. Before the crisis, PI Moaddel had assembled a collaborative team of researchers to survey the worldviews of nationally representative samples of individuals in those countries. Post-September 11, he and his team used the same survey instrument to complete new SGER-funded surveys, adding an additional 1,000 respondents in each country. Preliminary analyses of the post-September 11 surveys show complex responses. In Egypt, some anti-Americanism increased, such as concern about Western cultural invasion. At the same time, approval for democracy increased as did criticism of religious leaders. In Morocco, however, approval for democracy decreased after 9/11.

Other September 11-related research currently underway in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences is examining: public attitudes toward immigration and civil liberties with respect to America's military and diplomatic responses to 9/11; trust in political and social institutions in the U.S.; increases in political intolerance during national security crises; the implications of 9/11 for research, education and public engagement among scholars; the role of various national Middle Eastern and South Asian religious and ethnic organizations in responding to the backlash against the people they represent; and how personal, narrative oral histories of events are shaped over time by public narratives.

For more information on September 11th research:

List of SBE/SGER Awards Related to Terrorism

BCS Responds to September 11th

Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER)

OLPA - Special Edition - The Effects of 9/11: Preliminary Studies

Public Response in Context

Will we ever
feel safe again?

How confident are we in our government?



Changes in national pride in response to Sept. 11th: Changes in Confidence in Institutions in Response to Sept. 11th
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An NSF-funded survey by the National Opinion Research Center found evidence of increased faith in fellow citizens, increased confidence in selected institutions, and increased feelings of national pride following September 11th.

Changes in confidence in institutions in response to Sept. 11th: Changes in National Pride in Response to Sept. 11th
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How can we better
understand terrorism?

How can we improve our readiness should another attack occur?



American citizens willing to give up civil liberties

In a nationwide survey conducted by NSF researchers from Michigan State University shortly after September 11, 45% of American citizens surveyed said they are generally willing to give up certain civil liberties for greater security. But when asked questions about specific policies to combat terrorism, a large majority (in some cases, up to 71%) said they are willing to give up certain personal freedoms for greater security from terrorist attacks.

Impact of Sept. 11 on
Egyptian Public:
Impact of Sept. 11 on Egytian Public
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