Rethinkin the Study of Fear Appeals: An Emotional Perspective

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A selective review of theories of fear appeals is carried out which concludes that these theories have gradually become divorced from the notion of fear. The forces that motivated that separation are examined and a set of arguments are advanced favoring a reunion of fear with a theory of fear appeals. As a means of achieving that union, emotion theory is reviewed and a set of axioms extracted. The axiomatic framework is then used to demonstrate how an emotional perspective on fear appeals might shed new light on this area of persuasion. Recommendations are offered for future studies of fear appeals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-323
Number of pages29
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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