Fear Appeals

For as long as i can remember, my grandfather has always lit up a cigarette whenever he was along, with family – it didn’t matter his surroundings as long as he could smoke. He was brought up in a time where it was ‘normal’ and practically glorified if you smoke. At that time, smoking ads were smiling babies, sexy couples, fun social settings and of course they were all smoking a cigarette. From the look of the ads, no one would even stop to think that smoking could be damaging to your health and the health of others around you.



Nowadays, there have been numerous findings about the damaging effects of smoking and it was slowly being brought to the attention of the public. Cigarette tv commercials are banned now and with new legislation, smoking in public areas or around eateries is now illegal. Seeing news about what smoking can do to peoples health is making us see that something was so glorified in the 60’s and 70’s is not frowned upon and has us feared for our lives. This fear appeal has attempted to get people to kick the bad habit of smoking or have no interest in picking the habit up.  This technique is called Fear Appeal, and it is used to elicit an emotional response of fear or anxiety. They stress the negative consequence of either engaging or not engaging in the behaviour.

Some research shows that fear can cause greater chances of a person changing his or her poor health habits. This, would depend on how much fear was put into the person. (Schneider et al., 2012)
Schneider et al. (2012) stated, “…very high levels of fear were probably counterproductive in that people might be so upset that they would simply tune out very threatening messages and that inducing moderate levels of fear would be more likely to persuade people to follow health recommendations”


This photo represents a child crying, and suffocating in a bag of cigarette smoke. This photo depicts and visual puts fear into a parents mind that this is what you are doing to your children when you smoke around them. It is such a strong image that moved the whole Anti-Smoking revolution.

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Reference List

– Schneider, F. W., Coutts, L. M., & Gruman, J. A. (2012). Applied social psychology, understanding and addressing social and practical problems. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc

– 2003-2014, What is fear appeal, Wise Geek, viewed 7/05/14 <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-fear-appeal.htm&gt;

– 2013, 4 images above, images from Anti-Smoking campaigns, 10 Steps.sg, viewed 7/05/14 <http://10steps.sg/inspirations/artworks/50-most-creative-anti-smoking-advertisements/)




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