TIME/Discovery Channel Poll: How Americans Have Adapted to Terrorism

  • Share
  • Read Later
The September 11 terror attacks significantly changed life in the United States — although not the personal habits and convictions of most Americans. And, almost five years later, 69% of Americans believe that the war on terrorism won't be won within the next decade. In fact, 73% believe that another attack on U.S. soil is at least "somewhat likely" over the next 12 months. Those are some of the conclusions of a TIME/Discovery Channel poll that sampled attitudes from 1,000 adult Americans from August 22-24.

The extent to which the trauma of 9/11 is seared into the contemporary American consciousness is a clear from the fact that 98% of respondents recall their whereabouts when they first heard news of the attacks. Almost one in five indicated that they still think about the attacks every day, while a further 68% think about the events of 9/11 at least a few times a month.

While 53% agreed that the attacks have "changed life in the United States" a great deal — and a further 38% saw some changes as a result of 9/11 — very few changed their own behavior as a result. Only 23% avoided flying in the weeks that followed the attacks, while 22% avoided travel to cities that might be terror targets and 21% avoided large public gatherings.

The attacks may, however, have had a greater impact on social and political attitudes: They led 39% of respondents to view with suspicion "people who looked like they were of Middle Eastern origin," and they left 68% feeling more patriotic. Five years later, the number of respondents suspicious of people deemed to be from the Middle East had actually grown to 43%. Religious attitudes were mostly unchanged in the wake of the attacks — only 23% reported feeling more religious after the attacks, compared with 76% who answered in the negative — but five years later, 39% say their faith has intensified.

Select results from this TIME/Discovery Channel poll appear in this week’s issue of TIME, on newsstands Monday. For additional results from this poll, tune in to Ted Koppel’s premiere on the Discovery Channel. Koppel on Discovery — The Price of Security will air from 8-11 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 10. Click here for more information on Koppel’s premiere.