Women More Traumatized Than Men by TV Terror

Women appear to be more affected by television coverage of terrorism than men, say researchers at the University of Haifa.

Hana Levi Julian, MSW, LCSW-R ,

Terror attack in Sbarro
Terror attack in Sbarro
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Women are more affected than men by television coverage of terrorism, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University Haifa found the coverage caused women to lose psychological resources more than their male counterparts, leading to negative feelings and moodiness.

The results of the study, conducted by Professor Moshe Zeidner at Haifa University's Department of Counseling and Human Development
will soon appear in the journal Anxiety, Stress & Coping.

Earlier research conducted together with Professor Hasida Ben-Zur of the university's School of Social Work, dealing with gender differences in the effects of traumatic events, examined data based on questionnaires relating to past experiences, Zeidner said.

The current research examined these differences in a controlled experimental environment, in which all participants were exposed to the same events and reported on their feelings immediately after.

In the study, men and women were shown news video clips reporting on terrorist attacks that took place over the past few years and which resulted in serious casualties.

In parallel, two other groups of men and women were shown news coverage of "regular" everyday news events.

The women who viewed terrorism coverage described higher levels of feeling threatened and lower levels of psychological resources, as compared with the men who viewed the same news reports, researchers found.

The gender differences were not found among the control groups.

The study also found that the feelings of being threatened and loss of resources has an effect on the senses and led to a higher level of negativity, such as hostility and moodiness.

"It is possible that the differences between men and women are founded in gender socialization, 'teaching' women to respond to terrorism with more anxiety than men," Zeidner said.