Perceptions of Active Shooter Prevention and Preparation Strategies in Pennsylvania: Links to Self-Protective Behavior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, I document how members of the public perceive active shooter risk in their communities and their perceptions of the effectiveness of common efforts to prevent and respond to active shooters. I further investigate how news media exposure shapes these perceptions. I applied Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) to explore how perceptions and news media exposure might shape self-protective actions taken by individuals and their households. Data were obtained in 2019 from a cross-sectional, state-representative sample of 668 Pennsylvania adults who completed a web survey. Those who perceived higher community active shooter risk and those who felt community prevention and preparation efforts were effective were more likely to take self-protective steps themselves. Increased news exposure through apps, social media, family and friends was associated with increased perceived risk and effectiveness of prevention and preparation strategies. These results suggest that self-selected news and news through personal ties are linked to active shooter perceptions while other news mediums, like television or radio broadcasts, are not. News exposure was largely unrelated to self-protection. Those who felt community efforts were effective in prevention or preparation, however, were more likely to take self-protective actions. This finding indicates that community efforts may be more influential than news media in directing personal behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-25
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Primary Prevention
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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