Date of Submission


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (Ph.D.)


Criminal Justice


David L. Myers, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Charles A. Morgan, M.D.

Committee Member

Jonathan A. Kringen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Howard Stoffer, Ph.D.

LC Subject Headings

Mass shootings--Psychological aspects, Terrorism--Psychological aspects, Mental health


Most research examining the psychological impact of public mass-shootings and terrorist attacks focuses on the immediate victims (i.e., those at/near the scene of the crime or living nearby). Research consistently demonstrates that these directly targeted individuals experience a wide-array of adverse mental health outcomes following these traumatic events (Lowe & Galea, 2017; Wilson, 2014). What remains less understood, however, is how these violent episodes afflict the broader public who are exposed to the trauma largely through indirect means, such as media and word of mouth. While prior scholarship in this area remains quite limited, it also tends to suffer from several methodological limitations (e.g., cross sectional research design or case-study analysis of singular events). To address these limitations, this study employed a Time Series Cross Sectional (TSCS) framework, enabling an estimation of the impact of mass shooting and terrorist attacks on the general public across 72 deadly events during a 6-year period (2012-2017). In addition, this study involved an empirical testing of dose-response theory (APA, 1980), utilizing characteristics of each event (casualty rates and level of media exposure) as proxy measures for trauma dosage. Overall, findings from this study indicate that remotely exposed communities are not seriously affected psychologically by these incidents. Research and policy implications for public health and media reporting are discussed.