The University Record, July 1, 2002

Traugott tells Washington Americans still fearful after 9–11

By Mike Waring
Washington, DC, Office

Traugott delivers a message in Washington on the healing of America after Sept. 11.
U-M researcher Michael Traugott told a Capitol Hill luncheon in Washington June 18, that the events of Sept. 11 still linger in the hearts and souls of the American people.

Before a standing-room-only crowd, Traugott discussed the latest findings from the “How Americans Respond” survey conducted at the Institute for Social Research (ISR). Traugott was one of three researchers presenting their findings on social science research related to Sept. 11 at the event, which was hosted by several social science associations.

Traugott, who is chairman of the Communications Studies Department and a senior research scientist at ISR, tracked the same group of people immediately after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and again six months later.

In his findings, Traugott said six months after the attacks, 11 percent of his sample was “more shaken” and another 37 percent “still shaken” by the events of that day. Thirteen percent said they were “less shaken” than immediately after the attacks. Of those questioned, 68 percent had initially followed the news closely, but now that time had passed fewer were still following anti-terrorism news to the same extent. Traugott said those who followed the news more closely were often more likely to feel upset by the terrorist attacks.

Traugott also concluded that the impact of the attack has been severe and long lasting, and that while adults seem to be coping personally, their loss of feeling personal safety and security continues. He told the audience that the government faces great difficulty in communicating with the public about terrorism, saying it has to “keep the country on alert” and “define a clear result in the war on terrorism that the public understands and can accept.”

Other presenters at the forum were Mansoor Moaddel of Eastern Michigan University, who discussed his research into the impact of 9–11 on Egyptians and their values, and Len Lecci of the Univ. of North Carolina-Wilmington, who offered his research on how Americans perceive the threat of anthrax.

To reach the Washington, D.C., office, call (202) 554-0578 or contact mwaring@umich.edu.