This may come as a surprise : how prior knowledge of information in a fear appeal is associated with message outcomes

Davis, Burt ; Jansen, Carel (2016-09)

CITATION: Davis, B. & Jansen, C. 2016. This may come as a surprise : how prior knowledge of information in a fear appeal is associated with message outcomes. Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research, 42(3):398-421, doi:10.1080/02500167.2016.1209536.

The original publication is available at http://www.tandfonline.com

Article

Two related studies were performed aimed at finding if and how prior knowledge of threat and efficacy information in a fear appeal message is associated with message outcomes (attitude and behavioural intentions). the extended Parallel Process model (ePPm) (Witte 1992; 1998) served as theoretical framework for one study about a chlamydia fear appeal (n = 57) and another about an alcohol abuse fear appeal (n = 59). Findings from both studies suggest that prior knowledge of threat information is hardly relevant for readers’ reactions to a fear appeal message. Prior knowledge of efficacy information, however, proved to play a more important role, most often in a positive way. Findings from both studies furthermore suggest that the ePPm may be incorrect in assuming that individual differences – in this case, in prior knowledge – may only affect fear appeal outcomes in an indirect way, that is through different perceptions of threat and efficacy.

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