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Changes in authoritarianism and coping in college students immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001

Personality and Individual Differences
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2007.05.010
  • Authoritarianism
  • Coping
  • Social Dominance
  • Depression
  • September 11
  • 2001 Attacks


Abstract One hundred ninety-four (132 females, 62 males) college students at Arizona State University filled out questionnaires on their mood state, depression, coping strategies, right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation in the period from September 6 to September 13, 2001. The present study compared the responses of students on these measures for those 91 students who completed questionnaires up to the day of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11 vs. those 86 who completed questionnaires in the two days following the attacks. At this university far from the site of the attacks, transient mood states nor depression did not differ for students before and after the day of the attacks, while a significant interaction of gender by time of testing was found for maladaptive coping, with males decreasing in reported use of such coping after the attacks. A strong main effect of day of testing was found for right-wing authoritarianism, but not social dominance, with students scoring significantly higher on this variable after as compared to before the attacks. Intercorrelations of these measures before and after the attacks were also compared.

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