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Rationality and Context: Antidotes for Anthrax Anecdotes
Unformatted Document Text:  17 television news sources formed a highly reliable scale ( = .95) and were summed. The newspaper and television data series were highly correlated (r = .98), and both peaked during the week of October 15-21, when there were 2425 newspaper and 769 television anthrax stories. By the week of 31 December 2001-6 January 2002, each of these numbers declined to 112 and 34 respectively. Poll results available on The Gallup Organization’s website showed a steady decline in the perceived seriousness of terrorism after mid-October, 2001. During the second week of October, 46% of a national probability sample of adults mentioned terrorism as one of the most important problems facing the country today. By the second week in November this percentage had declined to 37%, and polls conducted in December and in January, 2002 yielded values of 23% and 24% respectively. Thus, it was within this general climate of reduced concern about terrorism and anthrax that Experiment 2 was conducted. Method Participants Experiment 2 participants were 75 undergraduate students (60 women and 15 men) enrolled in a social psychology class at a large, West Coast university. They completed the questionnaires during class time in exchange for a small amount of extra-credit. Their ages ranged from 18 to 39 (M = 21.08, SD = 2.69). Procedure Questionnaires identical to those used in Experiment 1 were employed in Experiment 2. They were presented in one booklet, but in the same order as they were administered in Experiment 1. Participants were given a period of time toward the end of

Authors: Berger, Charles., Johnson, Joel. and Lee, Eun-Ju.
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television news sources formed a highly reliable scale ( = .95) and were summed. The
newspaper and television data series were highly correlated (r = .98), and both peaked
during the week of October 15-21, when there were 2425 newspaper and 769 television
anthrax stories. By the week of 31 December 2001-6 January 2002, each of these
numbers declined to 112 and 34 respectively.
Poll results available on The Gallup Organization’s website showed a steady
decline in the perceived seriousness of terrorism after mid-October, 2001. During the
second week of October, 46% of a national probability sample of adults mentioned
terrorism as one of the most important problems facing the country today. By the second
week in November this percentage had declined to 37%, and polls conducted in
December and in January, 2002 yielded values of 23% and 24% respectively. Thus, it
was within this general climate of reduced concern about terrorism and anthrax that
Experiment 2 was conducted.
Method
Participants
Experiment 2 participants were 75 undergraduate students (60 women and 15 men)
enrolled in a social psychology class at a large, West Coast university. They completed
the questionnaires during class time in exchange for a small amount of extra-credit. Their
ages ranged from 18 to 39 (M = 21.08, SD = 2.69).
Procedure
Questionnaires identical to those used in Experiment 1 were employed in
Experiment 2. They were presented in one booklet, but in the same order as they were
administered in Experiment 1. Participants were given a period of time toward the end of


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