Janis and Feshbach

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  • Janis and Feshbach
    • Aim:
      • To investigate the consequences on EMOTIONS and BEHAVIOUR of FEAR APPEALS in communications.
    • Methodology:
      • Laboratory experiment. Participants were shown FEAR AROUSING material. Researchers collected data by a series of QUESTIONNAIRES on EMOTIONAL reactions and CHANGES in DENTAL practices.
    • Participants:
      • 200 students in total, with 50 in each of the 4 groups. Group 1 = HIGH fear arousal, group 2 = MODERATE fear arousal, group 3 = MINIMAL fear arousal, group 4 = CONTROL.
    • Procedure:
      • Group 1: Shown PICTURES and descriptions of diseased mouths, including explanations about the PAIN of tooth decay and gum disease and awful consequences like cancer and blindness.
      • Group 2: Similar pictures and descriptions as group one, but much less disturbing and dramatic.
      • Group 3: Given a lecture and cavities, without referring to very serious consequences and using diagrams and x-rays rather than emotive pictures.
      • Group 4: Given a lecture the same length of time as the others but about structure and function of the human eye.
      • Immediately after the lecture, a questionnaire was given to participants asking about their emotional reactions to the lecture.
      • One week later, a follow up questionnaire was given asking about long term effects of the lecture.
    • Findings:
      • Knowledge on dental hygiene did not differ between the 3 groups, so all lectures had successfully taught the material.
      • Strong fear appeal lecture seen in a more POSITIVE light, but more participants said they DISLIKED something in the talk and the slides were too UNPLEASANT,
      • Strong fear appeal group showed increase in CONFORMITY to dental hygiene of 8%.
      • Net increase in moderate group was 22%,increase in minimal group was 36% and control group showed no change.
    • Conclusions:
      • Strong fear-appeal created most WORRY in students and was rated as MORE INTERESTING.
      • Overall effectiveness of a health promotion campaign is likely to be REDUCED by STRONG fear-appeal as it produced the LEAST CHANGE in behaviour.
      • Fear appeals can be HELPFUL in changing behaviour, but it is important that the LEVEL of fear used is tailored to each audience.


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