Community Solidarity and Well-Being after the Virginia Tech Shootings

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Virginia Tech

In the aftermath of the rampage at Virginia Tech, the community experienced a surge of social solidarity. Using a longitudinal study of 478 students, this thesis examines the impact of attitudinal solidarity on well-being nine months after the shootings. In particular, this study focuses on the interaction effects of sex and solidarity on later well-being, providing a theoretical and empirical basis for understanding the connections between these factors. Quantitative analysis, conducted using linear regression with interaction variables, found that social solidarity four months after the shootings positively and significantly predicted well-being nine months after the shootings. The predictive power, however, was stratified by sex; women experienced diminished benefits of solidarity relative to their male counterparts. The literature suggests that this disparity may be attributed to additional social burdens placed on women after traumatic stressors. Other negative predictors of well-being include knowing victims and conversations with the media in the week after the attacks, This research has the potential to shed light on effective methods of responding to community-level trauma and may provide guidance to future policy-makers in when faced with these challenging situations.

Virginia Tech Shootings, Social Solidarity, Community Responses to Trauma, Recovery, Gender Differences