Friday, September 10, 2010

The September 11th Attacks Leave Lingering Fears Around the World

/PRNewswire/ -- Even though nine years have passed since the September 11 attacks, people around the world still feel its effects, according to new research with Survey Sampling International's (SSI) global online panels. SSI findings show that in all countries studied, the perception of being safe from terrorism is well below pre-9/11 levels. Though Australians and New Zealanders feel more secure than citizens of other countries, they still feel less safe today than before the events of 9/11.

The Japanese feel the least safe from terrorism, with the French and Germans also showing high levels of anxiety. In the US, the site of the attacks, feelings of security have bounced back significantly, with more than 40% of participants perceiving some level of safety, compared to about 20% in the month following 9/11. However, this is still far below the more than 70% who say they felt safe prior to the attacks. The UK shows a similar pattern to the US, with just over 40% of respondents feeling safe from terrorism today compared to about 70% before 9/11.

"The horrific events of 9/11 continue to haunt people around the world," says Mark Hardy, Managing Director, Americas and Chief Strategy Officer for SSI. "Although our research shows that some of the fear and anxiety people felt right after the attacks has dissipated, the impact of 9/11 on people's sense of security remains significant. In no country are we seeing a return to the same level of safety people felt before 9/11."

SSI's findings are based on a study of 5,000+ adults drawn from its online panels. Countries covered include the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. SSI offers extensive worldwide reach to support survey research through SSI Dynamix(TM), its dynamic sampling platform that links to its own online panels, as well as social media, reward programs, ad networks, partner panels and online communities.

In All Countries except Japan, People Believe Anti-Terrorism Policies Have Been Effective, though They Still Want Increased Security Measures

In spite of their concerns, people around the world believe their countries' anti-terrorism policies have been effective. Singaporeans are most positive about their government's policies, with almost 80% of respondents indicating their country's anti-terrorism activities are effective. The majority of British-- more than 60%--also believe their country's anti-terrorism approaches are effective. In addition, about half of American and Australian respondents give high marks to their governments' anti-terrorism policies.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Japanese are the most negative about their country's anti-terrorism policies. Japan is the only country studied where the majority of respondents--62%--believe their country's anti-terrorism policies are ineffective.

Despite the fact that most participants have faith in their country's current approach to fighting terrorism, they still want to see increased security put into effect. In every country studied, at least 60% of respondents would like stronger anti-terrorism measures in place. Support for increased security is highest in Singapore and Japan, with 85% of respondents saying they want increased security. The US places third in terms of its desire for greater security, with 76% seeking stronger measures.

Countries Differ Greatly in Their Willingness to Trade Personal Freedom for Security

Although respondents want more security, many are not willing to sacrifice their personal freedom to get it. Reactions to trading freedom for safety vary greatly by country. Singapore has the highest percentage (61%) of respondents willing to give up personal freedoms in return for higher safety. In fact, it is the only country with a majority of citizens agreeing on this issue. There is significant divisiveness in most countries on whether personal freedom or safety is more important.

Germany shows the greatest divide. Of all countries studied, it has the lowest proportion of participants ready to exchange their freedom for security (25%). On the other hand, 44% of German respondents are against sacrificing freedom for safety, and 31% are unsure. The US also shows a significant split, with 27% of respondents willing to let go of personal freedoms to increase safety, 39% unwilling and 34% unsure.

"Clearly, the topic of decreasing personal freedom to increase security is among the most divisive around the world," says Hardy. "It is telling that in many countries--including New Zealand, the US, the UK, Australia and Germany--a third or more of respondents are unsure of where to stand on this controversial issue."

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