The use of fear in public health campaigns has been controversial for decades. A campaign with gruesome photos of a person dying of lung cancer to combat smoking might make people think twice about lighting up. But opponents would argue that the photos are too visceral, along with being morally objectionable.
Fear-based campaigns are indeed effective at changing both attitudes and behavior, according to a review of more than a half-century of research. But that effectiveness isn’t the only thing to consider when deciding whether to use fear-based appeals, researchers say.
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