Psychological distress and prejudice following terror attacks in France

Robin Goodwin, Krzysztof Kaniasty, Shaojing Sun, Menachem Ben-Ezra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Terrorist attacks have the capacity to threaten our beliefs about the world, cause distress across populations and promote discrimination towards particular groups. We examined the impact of two different types of attacks in the same city and same year on psychological distress and probable posttraumatic stress symptoms, and the moderating effects of religion or media use on distress/posttraumatic symptoms and inter-group relations. Two panel surveys four weeks after the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack (N = 1981) and the November 2015 Bataclan concert hall/restaurant attacks (N = 1878), measured intrinsic religiosity, social and traditional media use, psychological distress (K6), probable posttraumatic stress symptoms (proposed ICD-11), symbolic racism and willingness to interact with Muslims by non-Muslims. Prevalence of serious mental illness (K6 score > 18) was higher after November 2015 attacks (7.0% after the first attack, 10.2% the second, χ2 (1) = 5.67, p < 0.02), as were probable posttraumatic stress symptoms (11.9% vs. 14.1%; χ2 (1) = 4.15, p < 0.04). In structural equation analyses, sex, age, geographic proximity, media use and religiosity were associated with distress, as was the interaction between event and religiosity. Distress was then associated with racism symbolism and willingness to interact with Muslims. Implications are considered for managing psychological trauma across populations, and protecting inter-group harmony.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-115
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017


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