Fear Appeals – How they Work

Standard

“Fear appeals are persuasive messages that attempt to arouse fear by emphasizing the potential danger and harm that will befall individuals if they do not adopt the messages’ recommendations…Fear appeals are effective.  The present meta-analysis found that
fear appeals were successful at influencing attitudes, intentions, and behaviors across nearly all conditions that were analyzed.”

..fear appeals were more effective when the message depicted relatively high amounts of fear, included an efficacy message, and stressed susceptibility and severity related to the concerns being addressed (i.e., factors concerning the message).  We also found that fear
appeals were more effective when they recommended one-time only behaviors (i.e., a factor concerning the recommended behavior) and when audiences included a higher percentage of women (i.e., a factor concerning the audience).

Amount of depicted fear. Perhaps the most central aspect of a fear appeal message is the amount of fear it is intended to arouse in message recipients.

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