This study also claims to answer the question as to whether the use of fear appeals can backfire. This has been somewhat controversial with many scholarly articles claiming they do. According to Perloff, fear appeals can backfire if it pushes an individual too far into what is referred to as fear control, opposed to danger control. Fear control is when in an individual is acting to keep his fear at bay, which is not the desired behavior a fear message is supposed to induce. An effective appeal motivates one to act to alleviate the danger, requiring the desired behavioral change. There is no better example of a fear appeal than the messaging driving the Covid-19 agenda. The appeal is getting ill from a new, unknown virus and the recommended course of action is total compliance with government dictates. This has been highly effective due to a constant stream of never-ending propaganda depicting Covid-19 as a global pandemic. Interestingly, fear messages are most effective when presented with a one-time behavioral adjustment opposed to repeated behaviors. Mask wearing, and economic shutdowns cannot be considered one-time changes, but extreme courses of action requiring dedication. This will be discussed in greater detail soon. The overall findings of this study show that fear appeals are remarkably effective in influencing behavioral and attitude changes.
There was a different approach taken by the authors that examined the effects of fear messages in their totality. Typically, one of three theoretical approaches is taken when examining the effects fear has on behavior. These are message content, recommended behavioral change and the intended audience. This study included all three in their analysis to gain a better understanding of how fear influences one to act. It is reasonable to conclude that viewing an individual’s motivation to act through the lens of only one of these approaches would be limited in scope. This is the problem of scientific studies. They are almost always based on a model that defines the boundaries in which the study can take place. When it comes to studies concerning human behavior, they too are based on models. Models mind you, that fall within the parameters of an established science of human behavior.
There are several models of behavior from which fear appeals are studied. The drive reduction model, the parallel process model, the extended parallel process model, the protection motivation theory, the situational theory of publics and last but certainly not least, the U.S. public health service belief model, also known simply as the health belief model or, HBM. The HBM, will be examined more deeply than the others for obvious reasons. The year 2020 will always be remembered because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the damage it wrought. Most of this was due to the perceived danger of a new killer virus where many people simply went along with the news being presented, without doing any substantial research for themselves.
Read the rest at Defense of Our Nation
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