The Role of Fear Appeals in Improving Driver Safety: A Review of the Effectiveness of Fear-arousing (threat) Appeals in Road Safety Advertising
Lewis, Ioni M., Watson, Barry C., Tay, Richard S., & White, Katherine M. (2007) The Role of Fear Appeals in Improving Driver Safety: A Review of the Effectiveness of Fear-arousing (threat) Appeals in Road Safety Advertising. International Journal of Behavioral and Consultation Therapy, 3(2), pp. 203-222.
This paper reviews theoretical and empirical evidence relating to the effectiveness of fear (threat) appeals in improving driver safety. The results of the review highlight the mixed and inconsistent findings that have been reported in the literature. While fear arousal appears important for attracting attention, its contribution to behaviour change appears less critical than other factors, such as perceptions of vulnerability and effective coping strategies. Furthermore, threatening appeals targeting young males (a high-risk group of concern) have traditionally relied on the portrayal of physical harm. However, the available evidence questions the relevance, and hence effectiveness, of strong physical threats with this group. Consequently, further research is required to determine the optimum way to utilise fear in road safety advertising, as well as the type of threat(s) most effective with different road users.
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