Term of Award

Fall 2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Michael Nielsen

Committee Member 1

Jeff Klibert

Committee Member 2

Shauna Joye


In the United States, some proposed law enforcement policies intended to prevent terrorism may violate the civil rights of American minorities. These policies include random searches by law enforcement, banning Muslims from entering the country, and refusing to grant asylum to Syrian refugees. Additionally, the rise of ISIS has heightened the salience of terrorism across the world and in the United States. The goal of the high-production videos produced by ISIS may be partially intended to create inter-religious conflict in the West. My study examines the effect of news about ISIS propaganda videos on Americans’ opinions about policies that limit the civil rights of Muslims. I also examine one possible moderator of reactions to ISIS propaganda: psychological inflexibility. This psychological factor, developed from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, is a kind of behavioral reactivity to distressing events. I obtained two samples for this experiment: one student sample from a Southeastern university, and a national sample of adults. Results showed that viewing ISIS propaganda raised negative affect in participants in both samples, did not increase support for anti-Muslim security policies, and psychological inflexibility did not play a role in this relationship. However, negative affect did play a role in predicting support for anti-Muslim policies. These results suggest support for anti-Muslim security policies may be more influenced by negative affect than viewing any particular news story in the media. Future research may determine whether other measures of emotional reactivity may be predictive of reactions to terrorism portrayed in the media.

Research Data and Supplementary Material