Security Versus Liberty in the Context of Counterterrorism: An Experimental Approach Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016, Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. A critical question in counterterrorism studies concerns the extent to which governments adequately balance the continual provision of individual rights and freedoms with the appropriate level of national security when faced with a terrorist attack. We experimentally assess this tradeoff utilizing a 222 between-groups factorial design, manipulating (a) the extent of terror-related threats, (b) the level of invasiveness of subsequent counterterrorism policies, as well as (c) the terror context: transnational and domestic. The results provide evidence that the public is more willing to accept greater reductions in civil liberties under a greater threat of terrorism only when the perceived effectiveness of those policies to prevent future acts of terrorism is high. Furthermore, we find these results to be specific to the context of a transnational terror threat. This suggests that the public will be unwilling to accept reductions in civil liberties when the source of the attack is domestic, regardless of the level of threat or how effective subsequent policies may be in preventing future attacks.

published proceedings

  • Terrorism and Political Violence

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Garcia, B. E., & Geva, N.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Garcia, Blake E||Geva, Nehemia

publication date

  • January 2016