In this article, we examine the effects of individual anxiety after the 2016 Orlando, Florida, mass shooting, which killed 49 people and wounded 58 others. Similar to prior research on the influence of anxiety, after the Orlando shooting anxious citizens supported policies and institutions perceived as protective and capable of minimizing future risks. In addition, anxiety counteracted ideology. Anxious citizens largely abandoned ideological processing, which resulted in a sharp reduction of differences between liberals and conservatives on essential beliefs and preferences associated with mass shootings. However, the degree of ideological abandonment turned on the alignment of ideology and anxiety. When anxiety about the Orlando shooting encouraged support for policies inconsistent with ideological preferences, the influence of ideology on subsequent preferences diminished notably. Conversely, when anxiety prompted support for policies consistent with ideological preferences, anxiety reinforced those preferences. The identification of ideological abandonment after Orlando, and the asymmetric influence of anxiety on political attitudes across ideology, are important contributions to theories of emotion and for research on tragic events.
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