Document Type

Research Paper


In this study we wished to examine how connectedness to others as measured by attachment style, interdependence and empathy would predict responses to a tragedy. We anticipated that those who report being more connected to others would be more emotionally affected and use social coping strategies. Males (!!=77) and females (!!=110) in introductory social science classes at a mid-western community college were given extra credit for their participation in this study.

Attachment style predicted emotional responses to September 11th. Correlations indicate that participants who were more dismissive were less likely to report fear and passive negative emotions such as sadness. Participants who were more fearful in their attachment style were, not surprisingly, more likely to report fear. Participants who were more secure were less likely to report being unaffected by the tragedy. Preoccupied participants were more likely to express active negative emotions such as anger. Interdependence was also predictive of emotional responses. Interdependent participants were more likely to report fear, optimism, and both active and passive negative emotions. They were also more likely to report more prejudicial attitudes toward the terrorists. Finally, the more empathetic the participant the more fear, passive negative emotions and optimism were reported.

Coping strategies were also examined. Participants who were more dismissive in their attachment style were less likely to utilize social coping strategies such as spending time with others; they were less likely to help others; and they were less likely to rely upon religion to help them cope. Secure participants and empathetic participants showed the exact opposite pattern. Fearful participants were less likely to use humor to cope. Interdependent participants were more likely to utilize social coping and to help others.

As expected, those who were more connected to others did show more negative emotions and used coping strategies that involved others.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference





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©2002 by the University of Northern Iowa



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University of Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls, IA