n Management Dynamics : Journal of the Southern African Institute for Management Scientists - Breaching the tension threshold in fear appeals : an experimental investigation

Volume 19, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1019-567X



This study investigates Thayer's activation theory as applied to fear appeals in advertising in the context of drinking-and-driving advertising. Young adults aged 18-24 were exposed to television advertisements employing three different levels of fear appeal. The impact of fear aroused (in terms of two dimensions namely energy and tension) by the advertisement stimuli on attitude and behavioural intention, was measured. The results showed that, for English-speaking respondents, a tension threshold was exceeded, where tension suppressed energy levels. The major contribution of this study is that, when fear appeals are considered in advertising for a drinking-and-driving campaign, the language differences in a target audience could warrant different approaches that should be carefully considered to maximise its impact.

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