Coping with terrorism: Age and gender differences in effortful and involuntary responses to september 11th

Martha E. Wadsworth, Gretchen R. Gudmundsen, Tali Raviv, Jarl A. Ahlkvist, Daniel N. McIntosh, Galena H. Kline, Jacqueline Rea, Rebecca A. Burwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


This study examined age and gender differences and similarities in stress responses to September 11th. Adolescents, young adults, and adults reported using a variety of strategies to cope with the terrorist attacks including acceptance, positive thinking, and emotional expression. In addition, involuntary stress responses such as physiological arousal, rumination, and emotional numbing were common. A number of age trends emerged, showing increases across the three groups in emotion-based coping strategies and decreases in some forms of disengagement coping. In addition, rumination decreased with age, whereas intrusive thoughts were more prevalent in the older groups. Females in both the adolescent and young adult samples reported using emotion-based strategies more than males, and these strategies were related to better functioning for females only. In addition, males reported higher levels of disengagement responses; and these responses were related to worse functioning, but only for females. The utility of using the Responses to Stress Questionnaire (Connor-Smith, Compas, Wadsworth, Thomsen, & Saltzman, 2000) to examine coping and involuntary stress responses in reference to terrorism and across a wide age range was examined. Implications for coping theory and empirical research are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-157
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Developmental Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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