People who watch news more likely to have anxiety about ISIS, study finds

RAMAT GAN, Israel — Following the most recent terror attacks in England, it’s no surprise that anxiety levels are high for many across the globe. The fear of being a victim of future attacks is causing people to think twice about attending large public events, and some are even canceling major trips overseas all together as ISIS warns more bloodshed is imminent. But are more people prone to fearing terror attacks more than others?

A new study finds that there are specific types of people who are more likely to suffer from anxiety as a result of ISIS. In particular, people who watch news programs may be at higher risk, as being exposed to ISIS-related stories from the media is one factor that might especially drive fear.

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A new study finds that people who are exposed to ISIS in the media and people with low resiliency are especially prone to ISIS-related anxiety.

Dr. Yaakov Hoffman, of the Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, led a study of 1,007 adult Israeli citizens to decipher any common characteristics of a person who exhibits ISIS anxiety.

He found that several traits stood out among participants who demonstrated significant fear of the terror cell. Women were especially more likely to experience anxiety from ISIS, as well as people with a lower-socioeconomic status. People who have seen the terror cell featured in the media tended to be a common segment, along with people who showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The findings may have important implications for addressing heightened anxiety in the event of elevated terrorist threats in terms of showing that exposure to ISIS media is detrimental to one’s mental health and increases ISIS anxiety beyond one’s level of general anxiety,” says Hoffman in a press release.

Resilience seemed to play a major role too, particularly for those with PTSD symptoms. Those who have low resilience were linked to the anxiety, along with people who demonstrated low levels of optimism.

“The results may suggest that increasing one’s optimism and resilience may mitigate the ISIS threat sensitivity, especially in individuals with PTSD symptoms,” says Hoffman.

The study’s findings were published this week in the journal Stress & Health.