Health the severity of the threat perceived

Health
promotion is a strategy that aims in helping people improve their health and
diminish health-risk behaviours that they may be performing. In order to
achieve this, health promotion uses several approaches and campaigns targeting
behaviour change, one of which is fear appeals. Fear appeals are messages that
are widely used aiming to decrease or even eliminate a health-risk behaviour
performed by an individual. Their goal is the sensitization of the individual
towards a specific issue with the use of fear, however it has been shown from
previous research that under specific conditions fear appeals may backfire and
lead to the opposite effect, i.e. the desensitization of the individual. There
is a body of influential theories explaining how individuals respond to
messages that include fear appeals and what key elements they need to have in
order to sensitize individuals and achieve the desired effect, which is to
minimize health-risk behaviour. Two of these theories, which support the use of
variations of fear appeals are, the Protection Motivation Theory (PMT),
(Rogers, 1983) and the Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM), which will be
presented and evaluated in this essay (Witte, 1992). On the other hand, another
theory on fear appeals, regarding its backfire effects and how they may lead to
an overexpression of the health-risk behaviour, is the Terror Management Theory
(TMT), (Greenberg et al., 1997), which will also be analysed below.  According to a wide body of research the
effectiveness of fear appeals promoting health is not conclusive. Variations of
fear appeals, methodological issues and moderators may explain the discrepancy
in the findings. These findings will be critically evaluated and an alternative
approach will be discussed and evaluated, which will add to our further understanding
of behaviour change.

 

The
first theory regarding fear appeals is the Protection Motivation Theory
(PMT).  Protection motivation is the
interest and intention an individual has to alter his/her health-risk behaviour
for the better. Protection motivation stems from threat and coping appraisals.
Threat appraisal entails the estimation of the severity of the threat perceived
and the personal susceptibility towards the threat. Personal susceptibility is
the vulnerability the individual feels of being affected by the negative
repercussions of the threat. Coping appraisal on the other hand is based on
response-efficacy and self-efficacy. Response efficacy is the extent to which
an individual believes that the health promoting behaviour can reduce the
threat or rule out the possibility of the fear appeal taking place and
self-efficacy is the extent to which the individual feels capable of succeeding
by performing the health behaviour recommended.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

 

The
second theory on fear appeals is the Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM), (Witte,
2009). This theory suggests that when a threat deriving from a fear appeal is
high, individuals will question their self-efficacy and will lead to what the
theory states as either danger control or fear control. If a person has high
efficacy under high threat conditions, then that person is likely to accept the
message and act in a way to diminish the chances of facing that threat, i.e. by
altering his behaviour. This is known as Danger Control (Witte, 2009). On the
other hand, if the individual has low self-efficacy when facing a high threat,
then he/she is likely to reject the message and perform the risky behaviour
excessively, inducing the risk he/she is facing, which is known as Fear Control.
Individuals exhibit this reaction in order to protect themselves from stress
and anxiety, when they don’t feel confident about engaging in the solutions
they are presented with in order to avoid the threat (Witte, 2009).

x

Hi!
I'm Ethel!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out