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Fear Appeals

Definition

Fear appeals, or fear-arousing communications, are communications that emphasize negative consequences of specific behaviors to motivate behavior change. Fear-arousing communications usually consist of two parts, namely, a fear appeal that stresses the severity of, and personal vulnerability to, a threat and a recommended protective action capable of reducing or eliminating the threat.

Context and Importance

Fear appeals are widely used in health promotion. They come in many guises, from the obligatory health warnings on cigarette packs to essays about the deleterious effects of obesity. With an estimated 40% of premature mortality from the 10 leading causes of death in the United States due to modifiable lifestyle factors, the use of fear appeals in health promotion has become an accepted means of improving the health of populations. The ...

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