Feature

Short-term and long-term psychological effects of the 9/11 attacks spread far beyond New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., according to a special issue of APA's flagship journal, American Psychologist. With a dozen peer-reviewed articles, the issue illustrates how psychology is helping people understand and cope with 9/11's enduring impacts. It also explores how psychological science has helped us understand the roots of terrorism and how to prevent further attacks.

The articles include:

  • "An Introduction to '9/11: Ten Years Later" by Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD, University of California, Irvine. A summary of the issue, which explores how the past decade was shaped by 9/11 and its aftermath; lessons learned from individual, community and national responses; and new analyses of psychological research.

  • "The Expulsion from Disneyland: The Social Psychological Impact of 9/11" by G. Scott Morgan, PhD, Daniel C. Wisneski, and Linda J. Skitka, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago. Americans responded to the 9/11 attacks with negative social reactions, such as increased prejudice, as well as positive social reactions, including charitable donations and civic engagement. Psychological theory helps explain why people have such powerful reactions when their way of life is threatened by terrorist attacks.

  • "Americans Respond Politically to 9/11: Understanding the Impact of the Terrorist Attacks and Their Aftermath" by Leonie Huddy, PhD, and Stanley Feldman, PhD, Stony Brook University. Research on American political reactions to 9/11 suggests that people support a strong government response to terrorism when they perceive a high risk of future terrorism and feel angry at terrorists. While Americans who were personally affected by the attacks were more likely to feel anxious about terrorism, they were less supportive of overseas military action.

  • "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Following the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks: A Review of the Literature among Highly Exposed Populations," by Yuval Neria, PhD, Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute; Laura DiGrande, DrPH, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Ben G. Adams, PhD, Columbia University. The 9/11 attacks brought a substantial and enduring burden of post-traumatic stress disorder on those people who lost loved ones, as well as on firefighters and recovery workers. Research over the past decade has broadened the understanding of PTSD following large-scale disasters such as terrorism.

  • "Growing Up in the Shadow of Terrorism: Youth in America After 9/11" by Nancy Eisenberg, PhD, Arizona State University and Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD, University of California, Irvine. For most children, the psychological consequences of 9/11 were relatively transient, particularly for those who only watched the events unfold on TV. However, 9/11 may have affected American youth in other ways, in terms of their sociopolitical attitudes and their general beliefs about the world. Parents played important roles in shaping their children's responses to 9/11.

  • "Postdisaster Psychological Intervention Since 9/11" by Patricia J. Watson, PhD, UCLA/Dartmouth; Melissa J. Brymer, PhD, UCLA; and George A. Bonanno, PhD, Teacher's College, Columbia University. The primary focus of early interventions at disaster sites should be to promote a sense of safety and a calm atmosphere, instill hope, and connect victims and survivors with appropriate resources, according to post-9/11 research used to develop guidelines and strategies for the best postdisaster mental health care.

Full text of the article, "An Introduction to '9/11: Ten Years Later," (PDF, 22KB) appears online.  For copies of the other articles in the issue, email APA's Public Affairs Office.

—A. Hamilton