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Increasing the Persuasiveness of Fear Appeals: The Effect of Arousal and Elaboration

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  • Keller, Punam Anand
  • Block, Lauren Goldberg
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    Abstract

    We investigate the conditions under which messages that prompt low and high levels of fear are likely to be effective. Our premise is that when a low level of fear is ineffective, it is because there is insufficient elaboration of the harmful consequences of engaging in the destructive behavior. By contrast, when appeals arousing high levels of fear are ineffective, it is because too much elaboration on the harmful consequences interferes with processing of the recommended change in behavior. We find support for these expectations in the context of a communication advocating that people stop smoking. The elaboration-enhancing interventions used, self-reference and imagery processing, increased the persuasiveness of a low-fear appeal by prompting elaboration on the harmful consequences of smoking, whereas the use of two elaboration-suppressing interventions, reference to others and objective processing, increased the persuasiveness of a high-fear appeal by decreasing the extent to which consumers deny harmful consequences. Copyright 1996 by the University of Chicago.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 22 (1996)
    Issue (Month): 4 (March)
    Pages: 448-59

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:v:22:y:1996:i:4:p:448-59

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JCR/

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    Cited by:
    1. Anat Bracha & Donald J Brown, 2007. "Affective Decision Making: a Behavioral Theory of Choice," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001676, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Hartmann, Patrick & Apaolaza, Vanessa & D'Souza, Clare & Echebarria, Carmen & Barrutia, Jose M., 2013. "Nuclear power threats, public opposition and green electricity adoption: Effects of threat belief appraisal and fear arousal," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1366-1376.
    3. Anat Bracha & Donald J. Brown, 2007. "Affective Decision Making: A Behavioral Theory of Choice," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1633, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    4. Anat Bracha & Donald J. Brown, 2008. "Affective Decision Making and the Ellsberg Paradox," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1667R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Aug 2008.
    5. Maille, Virginie & Hoffmann, Jonas, 2013. "Compliance with veterinary prescriptions: The role of physical and social risk revisited," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 141-144.
    6. Anat Bracha & Donald J. Brown, 2010. "Affective Decision-Making: A Theory of Optimism-Bias," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1759, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    7. Thakor, Mrugank V. & Goneau-Lessard, Karine, 2009. "Development of a scale to measure skepticism of social advertising among adolescents," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 62(12), pages 1342-1349, December.
    8. Anat Bracha & Donald J. Brown, 2007. "Affective Decision Making: A Behavioral Theory of Choice," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1633R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Apr 2009.
    9. Bracha, Anat & Brown, Donald J., 2012. "Affective decision making: A theory of optimism bias," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 67-80.

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