The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between level of violence in terrorist attacks and the policies that states implement in response to incidents of terrorism. Based on the literature, the theoretical argument is that as violence (in terms of total casualties) increases, policy makers will act with more self-interest due increased anxiety, aggression, and feelings of vengeance. These emotional responses will lead policy makers to enact more coercive, hard policies, while also being more likely to enact hard policies over soft policies. A comparative case study, using the method of agreement is applied, using six case countries. Five to six case attacks were randomly selected from each case country, resulting in a total of 31 cases. The cases are coded based on policy makers’ statements in the days following the attacks, and both a qualitative and quantitative analysis was performed based on the coding of the cases. Based on the analysis, it was determined that casualties, specifically number of deaths, was a significant factor in determining both the number and scope of hard policies proposed or implemented. Overall, there was evidence that supported the hypothesis that as violence increases, the total number and scope of hard policies increases, and the hypothesis that as violence increases, states will be more likely to implement hard policies over soft policies.


Bowling, Jeremy


Political Science


Arts and Humanities

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2017 Michael C. Houdek