Living with Terrorism or Withdrawing in Terror: Perceived Control and Consumer Avoidance
Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 14: 228–236 (2015)
Posted: 22 Sep 2015 Last revised: 11 Mar 2016
Date Written: 2015
Terror attacks targeting civilians are becoming more frequent and affecting more places around the globe. Given the increasing intensity of terrorism and the threat of terrorism, consumer behavioral manifestations may occur. We conducted three studies with diverse methodologies and populations to explore how concerns with terrorism affect individuals’ behavior. Two studies were conducted in Israel, a Western country that in the last decade experienced frequent terror attacks targeted at civilians. Results show that concerns with frequent terrorism increase people’s desire for control and may lead to avoidant behaviors. The extent of the avoidance response depends on consumers’ perceptions of whether they have some control over the odds of becoming a casualty should a terror attack occur. When individuals perceive their control to be low (but not high), they exhibit more avoidant behavior, changing their preferences and consumptions. We further find that individuals’ general desire for control increases when they are primed with terrorist activities compared with general mortality.
Keywords: terrorism; choice; protection motivation theory; desire for control
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