The Diffusion of Fear: Modeling Community Response to a Terrorist Strike
AbstractUnderstanding those factors critical to predicting public response is crucial to our ability to model the consequences of a terrorist strike in an urban area. To forecast community response, a system dynamics model was constructed that examines how a community is likely to respond to a terrorist attack along several dimensions. For three scenarios (anthrax attack, bomb blast and propane tank explosion) intensity of investigation, media coverage, public risk perception, diffusion of fear and community intervention are simulated over a six month period. Terrorist attacks generated intense media coverage initially resulting in high perceptions of risk and diffusion of fear. Delays in community intervention contributed to higher and more prolonged levels of fear. Perceptions of risk rose very quickly but declined quite slowly. These findings should prove useful to those wishing to predict public response to a variety of different contingencies involving terrorism.