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Race, Gender Influenced Reaction to 9/11

White males were more likely to advocate violent retribution, study found

THURSDAY, Dec. 28, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- People's immediate reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and their general health over the next two years depended, in part, on their gender and ethnicity, a U.S. study finds.

"Our findings demonstrate that men and whites were more likely to adopt a problem-focused approach to coping with trauma, while women and those of non-white ethnicity were more likely to adopt an emotion-based approach," study co-author Mark D. Seery, from the University at Buffalo's psychology department, noted in a prepared statement.

In terms of long-term health, both approaches had negative and positive effects.

"Whites and men in this expressed fewer sad and sympathetic responses to 9/11 than did women and other ethnicities (black, Hispanic and a third category made up largely of Asian Americans). This would predict better long-term health for them, except for the propensity of whites and men to advocate violent retaliation, which was associated with poorer health outcomes over time," Seery said.

The findings, from the study of nearly 1,600 people, were published in the December issue of the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology.

"We used a panel of study subjects that was in place before 9/11/2001, which made it possible for us to assess and account for pre-trauma mental and physical health, a rarity in trauma research," Seery said.

The findings show that not everyone responds in the same way to such events, the researchers said. It also suggests the need for specific interventions for people who may be most likely to suffer long-term effects.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about coping with traumatic events.

SOURCE: University at Buffalo, news release, Dec. 19, 2006
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