The Logic of Public Fear in Terrorism and Counter-terrorism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This paper attempts to do two things: to provide a summary overview of the ways in which the academic literature has tended to characterize the role of fear and psychological violence in the process of political terrorism and to advocate for counter-terrorism policies that recognize the importance of fear in this process and attempt to reduce this psychological response or, at least, to not exacerbate it. In completing these two tasks, I initially review the literature for discussions of the role of fear in both common definitions and theories of the use of terrorist violence. I then briefly draw upon the empirical findings of public opinion surveys and polls in the UK and US between 2001 and 2010 to illustrate this fear in practice. Finally, the paper concludes with the suggestion that both theories and real world observations point toward the idea that the most efficient form of counter-terrorism policy is one that mitigates levels of public fear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-101
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Counter-terrorism
  • Fear
  • Intimidation
  • Public opinion
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'The Logic of Public Fear in Terrorism and Counter-terrorism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this