The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Boston Marathon Bombings: The Public's Attitudes and Beliefs Before and After the Attacks

Boston Aftermath

The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) released a study on the public's attitudes before and after the Boston Marathon bombings, entitled "U.S. Attitudes Toward Terrorism and Counterterrorism Before and After the April 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings".

The study compared responses of American adults who completed a survey immediately before the bombings with the responses of a similar group of Americans who completed the survey immediately after the bombings. According to this report, "the most striking change in attitudes following the Boston Marathon bombings was an increase in respondents' willingness to call the police in a variety of terrorism-related situations. On the other hand, most of the other attitudes toward terrorism and government responses to it were not significantly different among those who completed the survey before and after the event."

The overall findings of this study were twofold -- "the results of this study suggest that public attitudes toward terrorism and government responses to it are fairly stable even in the face of a highly publicized terrorist event. At the same time, a highly publicized event appears to increase the willingness of the American public to help the authorities prevent future attacks." More generally, the results highlight long-term policy finding that: to be effective, policing requires direct citizen engagement and cooperation.