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Objective: There is an urgent need to develop tools to effectively measure the impact of psychological responses consequent a terror attack or threat. There is also a need to understand the impact both the personal preparedness of each citizen, and acts of counter terrorism by governments. This paper addresses the question ‘how to create a database of the citizen’s mind about anxiety-provoking situations in the face of terrorism’. Approach: The approach is grounded in a combination of experimental design, psychophysics, as a branch of psychology and consumer research. The theoretical foundation is illustrated using a set of fifteen empirical studies using conjoint analysis, which help uncover how people respond to anxiety-provoking situations. The approach identifies the mindset towards terrorism at the level of the individual respondent. This study identifies critical drivers of anxiety; the specific terrorist act; the location of the act; the feelings and the proposed remedies to reduce anxiety. Results: By exploring responses embedded in a general study of ‘dealing with anxiety provoking situations’, the study uncovers the ‘algebra of the individual respondent’s mind; how important the basic fear of terrorism actually is, how important it is to specify the type of terrorism (bombing versus contamination of the food supply), and how fears of terrorism are structured. Discussion: The outcome of this study is the formation of an empirical dataset which provides a framework for a sub-discipline in social sciences. We examined the problems from three perspectives: as a scientist - to understand general patterns; as an engineer - to solve a specific problem and as a clinical psychologist – both at the level of a single individual (idiographic) and at the level of the general population (nomothetic).