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Experts discuss reactions, relationships in times of war

March 24, 2003

Gender reactions to war differ

How will people react to the war in Iraq? A Purdue University interpersonal communication expert says people should look past a person's gender when offering support.

"As we head into war, people will experience many different types of emotions," says Erina MacGeorge, a professor of communication in the School of Liberal Arts. "Different people may experience anger or sadness or fear, depending on their individual perspectives and personalities.

This spectrum of emotions can make it challenging for friends and relatives, as well as professionals, to know how to provide support, MacGeorge says.

Gender differences can play a role in emotional expression.

"Because of cultural norms, men may not feel free to express sadness or grief over fighting in a war, even though those are emotions they feel most strongly," MacGeorge says. "For women, it may not be socially acceptable to express anger. It's important for those who lend support to look past a person's gender."

Contact: MacGeorge, (765) 494-3329,

Expert says media not substitute for friends during war

A Purdue University communication expert says finding your friends is a better strategy for coping with war than being consumed by media coverage.

"These are worrisome times in America," says Glenn Sparks.

Sparks says he expects to see people turn to media for non-stop coverage or hide from all news. But he cautions that what people really need are close social support systems.

Sparks can talk about strategies that people can use to cope with war, particularly strategies that involve media use, as well as what steps people can take to develop close, interpersonal relationships.

CONTACT: Sparks, (765) 494-3316,