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The Online and Offline Effects of Terror Attacks on Public Opinion Regarding Immigration


Cologne International Forum Innovative Tandem Collaboration: 1 December 2023 - 30 November 2024

Dr. Ana Macanovic (Utrecht, Netherlands)

Partner at the University of Cologne: Dr. Mark Wittek (Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology (ISS)


During the last decades, Europe and the Middle East were targets of a wave of Islamist terrorist attacks, sparking intense debates on immigrating in politics and the media. Understanding how societies respond to terrorism is crucial for informing policy decisions aimed at political stability and mitigating the rise of populist parties. However, existing evidence on whether citizens’ attitudes are affected by terrorist attacks remains inconclusive and suffers from various shortcomings. Our project seeks to fill these research gaps and investigate attitudes towards immigrants before and after terrorist attacks.

To do so, we analyze the effect of terrorist attacks on posts written in online media and the citizen responses to attitude questions in large-scale surveys. We trace the public discourse by analyzing posts written on YouTube and Facebook using text mining and evaluate attitudes in responses to the European Social Survey using statistical methods for identifying causal relationships. Combining these online and offline sources will provide us with unique insights into how these attacks are perceived in both the public and the private sphere.

Dr. Ana Macanovic

Ana Macanovic is a postdoctoral researcher at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. Her work explores cooperation, trust and inequality in increasingly diverse societies. She is interested in understanding how social norms develop and change, and how language used by different social groups shapes and is shaped by social inequalities. Ana studies these phenomena with the help of computational methods, including computational text analysis, network analysis, and agent-based simulations. Ana is completing her PhD at Utrecht University concerned with cooperation in extra-legal settings, and her new projects will be focusing on the ways in different social groups are discussed in online and offline contexts and the consequences thereof.