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Fear Appeals and Extended Parallel Process Model

  • By: Michael Basil & Kim Witte
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Fear has been identified as a basic human emotion. It is believed to be an evolutionary mechanism that automatically motivates animals and humans to self-protect. Health communication efforts often try to tap into the motivational effects of fear by using what is termed “fear appeals.” That is, parents, health professionals, communication experts, social marketers, and even politicians try to scare people into particular behaviors. Most typically fear appeals attempt to change people's behavior by telling them of the dangers posed by a particular behavior. The hope is that making people aware of danger will raise fear levels and convince them to avoid the threat by taking protective action. This is why fear appeals are often identified as “drive models.”

Over the years many studies have examined ...

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