Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reacting to Terror: U.S. vs Britain

Dean Obeidallah published an interesting commentary on CNN.com today discussing the marked contrast in reactions to two recent terror attacks -- the Boston bombings in the U.S. and the recent attack on the British soldier in London.

Though the U.S. attack killed and injured far more people than the British attack, the anti-Muslim backlash in the latter country "has been alarming."  

Though Obeidallah's article is purely opinion, without data to support his assertions, he looks to America's historic identity as a "melting pot" for an explanation.  Unfortunately, he offers no broad explanation for England's backlash. 

However, behavioral scientists, such as those comprising the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science do have data that suggests values do matter.  One's personal values, and clarifying one's values, can lead to meaningful behavior change and help people overcome many psychological problems related to anxiety, marital problems, drugs and alcohol, and many others.  To the extent that a "national identity" is an accumulation of personal values from 300 million citizens, perhaps Dean is on to something.  

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