The Aftermath and After the Aftermath of 9/11: Civility, Hostility, and Increased Friendliness

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An attack such as 9/11 engenders both increased in-group solidarity and other prosocial responses and increased hostility to out-group(s) including those perceived as similar to the presumed perpetrators. We report retrospective data collected from 5 to 11 months after 9/11, from 209 New York City taxi drivers. Judgments of their patrons by the taxi drivers indicate changes in civility (friendliness, politeness) that typically were most intense for the first week but continued to some degree for a few weeks to months, and some, the increased positivity experienced by Blacks, were present almost a year later. The direction of change depended on the ethnicity of the cab drivers: African Americans reported an increase in civility, whereas South Asian cab drivers reported a decrease in civility. The 9/11 attack seemed to improve public reaction to African Americans, perhaps because they were replaced by Middle-Easterners/South Asians as part of the “new enemy,” the Muslim terrorists.

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