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Fear Appeals

Fear appeals are messages designed to scare people by describing a threat that is both personally relevant and serious. Fear appeals are one type of motivational appeal, which can be broadly defined as a message intended to increase an individual's drive to engage in a particular behavior. Virtually any human emotion or need can serve as the basis of a motivational appeal. Examples of emotional appeals are numerous and include appeals to pity and guilt (for example, the “Feed the Children” campaign), humor appeals (for example, Fetman, Garland, & Associates' “Life's Short. Get a Divorce” billboard), and appeals to pride and patriotism (for example, the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign's “Palin Power” or “Country First” slogans). Further, biological needs might be used to capture people's ...

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