Uplifting Fear Appeals: Considering the Role of Hope in Fear-Based Persuasive Messages

Robin L. Nabi, Jessica Gall Myrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Fear appeal research has focused, understandably, on fear as the primary emotion motivating attitude and behavior change. However, while the threat component of fear appeals associates with fear responses, a fear appeals’ efficacy component likely associates with a different emotional experience: hope. Drawing from appraisal theories of emotion in particular, this article theorizes about the role of hope in fear appeals, testing hypotheses with two existing data sets collected within the context of sun safety messages. In both studies, significant interactions between hope and self-efficacy emerged to predict behavioral intentions. Notable main effects for hope also emerged, though with less consistency. Further, these effects persisted despite controlling for the four cognitions typically considered central to fear appeal effectiveness. These results, consistent across two samples, support the claim that feelings of hope in response to fear appeals contribute to their persuasive success. Implications for developing a recursive model of fear appeal processing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-474
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 21 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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