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Exploring the effectiveness of fear appeal advertisement in health

related issues - A survey of urban youths in Delhi (18 – 35 years)

Submitted for the partial fulfillment of

Paper: MMCC-


Prof. Kulveen Trehan

Lecturer, CMS
G.G.S.I.P. University

Submitted By:
Madhumita Raha
MMM III Semester
Aug – Dec 2009

Centre for Media Studies,

Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University,
Kashmere Gate, Delhi - 110403

This is to certify that Madhumita Raha, a student of Master of Mass Media, Centre for

Media Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, enrolled for 2008-2010 batch,

with Enrollment No.0482034008, completed her research project on Exploring the

effectiveness of fear appeal advertisements in health related issues – A survey of urban

youths in Delhi (18 -35 years) respectively, as a part of her minor project.

Prof. Ambrish Saxena Prof. Kulveen Trehan

Consultant, CMS Lecturer, MMCC, CMS


I, Madhumita Raha, a student of Master of Mass Media (MMM), with enrolment number

0482034008, batch 2008-2010, at Centre for Media Studies (CMS), Guru Gobind Singh

Indraprastha University Delhi, have completed her research report on “Exploring the

effectiveness of fear appeal advertisement in health related issues – A survey of

urban youths in Delhi (18 – 35 years)” of the subject minor report (Course Code


I reaffirm that the research report submitted by me is an original piece of work and writing,

and nothing has been lifted or copied from anywhere.

Date ( )

Madhumita Raha

I hereby take the privileged opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Prof. Kulveen

Trehan, for her propr and constant guidance, cooperation, inspiration, keen supervision

and the practical approach she gave to my project.

My special thanks to Prof. Ambrish Saxena, Consultant, CMS for his valuable guidance

and suggestion.

(Madhumita Raha)

1. Introduction
2. Literature Review
3. Statement of the problem
4. Objectives of the study
5. Research Methodology
6. Data Presentation
7. Quantitative analysis and Qualitative analysis
8. Results
9. Limitations
10. Conclusion
11. Bibliography
12. Annexure
Advertising is the means by which goods and services are promoted to the public.
Throughout the years, advertisers have employed a wide variety of advertising
approaches. Two major types of advertising appeals are as follows:

1. Rational appeal
Rationality is an important advertising appeal because advertisements should provide
enough information for people to rationally justify what they want emotionally.

2. Emotional appeal
Emotional appeal is a type of advertising in which the copy is designed to stimulate
one's emotions, rather than one's sense of the practical or impractical. When
copywriters use emotional appeal in advertising, they are attempting to appeal to the
consumer's psychological, social, or emotional needs. The copy is written to arouse
fear, love, hate, greed, sexual desire, or humor, or otherwise create psychological
tension that can best be resolved by purchase of the product or service. The different
types of emotional appeal used in advertising can be:
• Love
• Anger/ rage/ fury
• Envy/ jealousy
• Relationships
• Ceremonies and rituals
• Humor
• Fear
• Sex

The particular appeal to use should be based on a review of the creative brief, the
objective of the advertisement and the means end chain to be conveyed. The actual
choice depends on a number of factors including the product being sold the personal
preferences of the advertising creative and the account executive as well as the wishes of
the client. In determining the best appeal to use, it is often a question of which type of
appeal is most appropriate. Advertising experts know that certain appeals are less
effective for goods and services.

Advertising sometimes attempts to create anxiety in the consumer on the basis of fear, so
that the consumer is encouraged to resolve this fear by purchasing the product or service.
Fear appeal (such as AIDS brochure, drunken driving campaigns and anti smoking ads)
are often used with the intent of safeguarding consumers from some anticipated fate by
informing, persuading and advising consumers as to how to manage various problems.
Threats followed by recommendation define the general format of fear appeal. Threats
refer to undesirable events and recommendation refers to strategies for dealing with
these undesirable events.

Fear appeal in advertisements

Advertisers use fear to sell a variety of products. Life insurance companies focus on the
consequences of not having life insurance if a person dies. Shampoo and mouthwash
ads invoke fears of dandruff and bad breath. These problems can make a person a social
outcast. Fear is used more often than most casual observers realize.

Simply, stated advertisers use fear appeal because it work. Fear increases both the
viewers’ interest in an advertisement and the persuasiveness of the ad. Many individuals
remember advertisements with fear appeals better than they do warm, upbeat messages.
Consumers who pay more attention to an advertisement are more likely to process
information it presents. This information processing makes it possible to accomplish the
ad’s main objective.

When using fear, one issue is the strength of the appeal. Most advertisers believe in
moderate level of fear is the most effective. A low level of fear may not be noticed, and
the fear level may not be convincing in terms of severity or vulnerability. On the other
hand, an advertisement with too high of a fear level can backfire, because the message is
so strong that it causes feelings of anxiety. This leads the viewer to avoid watching the
ad, by changing the channel or muting the sound. The goal of fear ad is to be powerful
enough to get a viewer’s attention and to influence his or her thinking, but not so scary
that the person avoids seeing the advertisement.
Fear ads match well with certain types of goods and services, especially products that
eliminate problems or threats to a consumer’s sense of personal security. It is said that
moderate level of fear works well and a plausible threat motivates consumers.

A fear appeal highlights the risk of harm or other negative consequences of not using the
advertised brand or not taking some recommended action. The appeal is usually a
combination of reason why and affects attachment. It’s a little bit of thought coupled with a
little bit of fear. Getting the balance right can be very tricky. The intuitive belief about fear
as a message tactic is that fear will motivate the receiver to buy a product that will reduce
or eliminate the portrayed threat.



Threat is an external stimulus variable (e.g., an environmental or message cue) that

exists whether a person knows it or not. If an individual holds a cognition that a threat
exists, then he or she perceives a threat. Message characterizations of threat focus on
the severity of the threat (e.g., "AIDS leads to death") and on the targeted population's
susceptibility to the threat (e.g., "You're at-risk for AIDS because you share needles while
using intravenous drugs") (Rogers, 1975, 1983). Correspondingly, perceived severity is
an individual's beliefs about the seriousness of the threat, while perceived susceptibility is
an individual's beliefs about his or her chances of experiencing the threat.


Efficacy also exists as an environmental or message cue and may lead to perceived
efficacy, which refers to cognitions about efficacy. Message depictions of efficacy focus
on the effectiveness of the recommended response (i.e., response efficacy) and on the
targeted audience's ability to perform the recommended response (i.e., self-efficacy)
(Rogers, 1975, 1983). Correspondingly, perceived response efficacy refers to an
individual's beliefs as to whether a response effectively prevents the threat (e.g., "I
believe condoms prevent HIV contraction"), and perceived self-efficacy refers to an
individual's belief in his or her ability to perform the recommended response (e.g., "I think
that I can easily use condoms to prevent HIV contraction") (Rogers, 1975, 1983).
Outcome Variables

The typical outcome in fear appeal research is message acceptance, defined as attitude,
intention, or behavior change. Other outcomes less commonly assessed but equally
important are defensive avoidance and reactance. Defensive avoidance is a motivated
resistance to the message, such as denial or minimization of the threat. Individuals may
defensively avoid a message by being inattentive to the communication (e.g., looking
away from the message), or by suppressing any thoughts about the threat over the long
term (Hovland, Janis, & Kelly, 1953; Janis & Feshbach, 1953; Janis & Mann, 1977).
Reactance occurs when perceived freedom is reduced and an individual believes "that
the communicator is trying to make him [or her] change" (Brehm, 1966, p. 94) (e.g., "I'11
show them that they can't manipulate me, I'm going to smoke even more!").

Models of the Fear Arousal Process

With these definitions in mind, previous theoretical approaches may now be reviewed.
Following Dillard (1992), there are three major categories that correspond to three
separate time periods in the evolution of fear appeal theories: (a) the drive models
(Hovland et al., 1953;Janis, 1967; McGuire, 1968, 1969), (b) the parallel response model
(Leventhal, 1970, 1971), and (c) the expectancy value theories (Rogers, 1975, 1983;
Sutton, 1982).2

Drive Models

Two drive models were advanced in the 1950s and 1960s to explain individuals' reactions
to fear appeals. The most prominent fear appeal model of this time period was Janis'
(1967; Hovland et al., 1953) fear-as-acquired drive model. Janis (1967) proposed an
inverted-U shaped relation between fear and message acceptance. He claimed that some
fear arousal was needed to elicit a motivational drive state (i.e., create tension), but too
much fear would result in maladaptive outcomes (e.g., defensive avoidance.) Using a
learning theory approach, Janis (1967) argued that the unpleasant tension caused by fear
arousal motivated individuals to get rid of their fear. He said whatever reduced their fear--
be it adaptive (e.g. behavior changes) or maladaptive (e.g., denial)--would be reinforced
and become the preferred response to the threat.
McGuire (1968, 1969) also advanced an inverted-U explanation of fear appeals with his
two-factor theory. McGuire (1968, 1969) argued that when fear acted as a drive, it
motivated people to accept the message’s recommendations. When fear acted as a cue,
he said it elicited habitual responses that interfered with the acceptance or reception of
the message. McGuire (1968, 1969) proposed that these two factors (i.e., cues and
drives) combined to yield an overall inverted-U relationship between fear arousal and
attitude change, where a moderate amount of fear arousal would produce the most
attitude change.

Tests of these pioneering fear appeal theories have led to their rejection (see Beck &
Frankel, 1981; Rogers, 1983; Sutton, 1982). No evidence has been offered to support
McGuire’s (1968, 1969) non-monotonic model (see Higbee, 1969). Janis’ (1967) model
has been similarly rejected. Specifically, the fear-as0acquired drive model’s central
hypothesis, that acceptance of the message occurred when fear was reduced, was not
supported. Studies manipulating false physiological feedback found that increases in fear
arousal were accompanied by increases in acceptance, independent of any fear
"reduction" (Giesen & Hendrick, 1974; Hendrick, Giesen, & Borden, 1975; Rogers, 1983).
In addition, Mewborn and Rogers (1979) found that only arousal, and not arousal
reduction, affected intentions. Finally, Rogers and Deckner (1975) found that only
cognitive appraisal of the threat and whether the response was seen as effective resulted
in message acceptance. The empirical evidence has prompted researchers to reject the
drive models as viable fear appeal explanations.

Parallel Response Model

Based on Hovland and Janis’ work, Leventhal developed the parallel response model,
which began to focus more on cognitive processes, as opposed to emotional processes.
Leventhal argued that protective adaptive behavior stemmed from attempts to control the
danger or threat (cognitions), not from attempts to control the fear (emotions). Therefore,
if people thought about the threatening message and developed strategies to avert the
danger or threat (attitude, intention, or behavior changes), they were engaging in danger
control processes. In contrast, if people focused on their feelings of fear, and tried to
control their fear (e.g., denial), they were experiencing fear control processes.
Leventhal attempted to reconcile past literature with his model, but offered no evidence
for its veracity with a single study. He made general statements about conditions leading
to fear or danger control processes, but he failed to specify exactly when one process
should dominate over another or what failed to specific factors elicit the different
processes. Thus, the main problem with the parallel response model is its lack of
precision (Beck & Frankel, 1981); Rogers, 1975). Overall, however, the model offered a
useful distinction between cognitive and emotional reactions to fear appeals.

Expectancy Value Theories

Further de-emphasizing the role of fear arousal in favor of cognition were Rogers' (1975,
1983) protection motivation theory (PMT) and Sutton's (1982) application of subjective
expected utility (SEU) theory (Edwards, 1961) to fear appeals. In the latter, Sutton (1982)
argued that decisions to accept a fear appeal’s recommendations were a function were a
function of three variables;(a) the perceived utility of the threat; (b) the subjective
probability that the threat will occur, given no changes in current behaviors; (c) the
subjective probability that the threat will occur if individuals make the recommended
changes. To predict a person's decision to accept a fear appeal's recommendations, each
subjective probability (i.e., "b" and "c" above) is multiplied by the utility. "According to the
model, the individual will choose the alternative that has the higher SEU [subjective
expected utility] value and hence, in this situation, the one that is associated with the
lower subjective probability of occurrence of the unpleasant consequence" (Sutton, 1982,
p. 326). Tests of this model were generally unsupportive (e.g., Sutton & Eiser, 1984;
Sutton & Hallett, 1989). For example, Sutton and Fiser (1984) note "no evidence for the
multiplicative combination of utilities and subjective probabilities" (p. 14).

Protection motivation theory.

The theoretical framework for most fear appeal research since 1975 is Rogers'(1975,
1983) PMT. Rogers (1975, 1983) advanced fear appeal research by specifying the
message components and cognitive processes related to fear appeals. PMT focuses
exclusively on Leventhal's (1970) danger control process (i.e., thoughts about the danger
or threat and how to prevent it); fear control processes are not addressed. In PMT (Figure
1), four
message components are proposed to cause corresponding cognitive mediation
processes: (a) probability of occurrence depictions in a message lead to perceived
susceptibility; (b) magnitude of noxiousness in the appeal produces I perceived severity;
(c) descriptions of the effectiveness of the recommended in response result in perceived
response efficacy; and (d) characterizations of an individual's ability to perform the
recommended response produce perceived self-efficacy. The first three components were
outlined in Rogers' (1975) original description of PMT. Bandura's (1977) work on self-
efficacy, and Beck and Frankel's (1981) delineation of personal versus response efficacy
prompted Maddux and Rogers (1983) to add the last component (self-efficacy).3

Strategic implications of fear appeal advertising

• Moderate level of fear works well

• A plausible threat motivates consumers

Literature Review


Advertising by Tony Yeshin

Chapter no. 10 Creative Strategy and Tactics
The chapter talks about the different creative execution tactics adopted by an ad agency.
Tony Yeshin has given useful insights about how a creative brief should look like and
then explaining each point. He also talked about different advertising appeals and their

Integrated advertising, promotion and marketing communications by Kenneth E.

Clow, Donald Baack
Chapter no. 6 Advertising design: Theoretical frameworks and types of appeals
Clow and Baack have explained in detail about the different advertising theories and
appeals. Theories like hierarchy of effects, means end theory, leverage points and verbal
and visual images have been explained in simple and easy language and these theories
has helped me in framing my questionnaire.

Advertising and promotion: an integrated marketing communications perspective

by Belch
Chapter no.9 Creative strategy: Implementation and evaluation
The chapter focuses on various types of advertising appeals that can be used in the
development and implementation of an advertising campaign. It also discusses different
creative execution styles in print advertising and TV commercials. In this chapter belch
has also discussed how clients evaluate the creative work of their agencies.

Research papers

Cigarette smokers perception of fear appeal advertisements by Lauren Michele De

Bruin, 2006
This research was conducted to explore South African’s smoker’s perception of anti-
smoking, with the incorporation of fear appeal advertisements. Focus group discussions
were conducted with male and female smokers from Gauteng. A thematic analysis found
that participants negatively viewed advertisements that use unrealistic images and failed
to relate to the message portrayed. Information about the risks associated with smoking
was perceived as patronizing and as positioning smokers as ignorant and unintelligent. In
addition, fear appeal messages that only focus on long-term consequences of smoking
were perceived as ineffective. Participants failed to identify with content that solely relied
on factual information at the expense of an emotive appeal. The findings suggest that
anti-smoking communication could benefit from content that evokes shock without
sacrificing realism, that it should include information about short-term and immediately
visible consequences of smoking and that it should avoid negative depictions of smokers
that alienate them from the message being portrayed.

Effects of fear appeal format and consumer personality on ad processing and

persuasion: a preliminary analysis by Henry C. Boyd III, 1995, Fuqua school of
business, Duke University, Durham
This paper investigates how communication format and consumer personality impact
processing and persuasion within a fear appeal context. By altering the sequence of
threats and recommendations contained within a fear appeal, two format conditions were
created a balanced format and traditional format. Using the repression- sensitization
scale, subjects were classified as either sensitizers, or repressors. Under a balanced
format condition, sensitizers produced more support arguments and fewer counter
arguments and reported greater behavioral intentions to comply with message

Effectiveness of fears in anti smoking campaigns: A comparison of smokers, past

smokers and non smokers by Ian Phau, Curtin University of Technology
This empirical study analyses the effectiveness of fear appeals as the motivator in
communication initiatives in Singapore. Respondents are shown a series of
advertisements depicting a bleeding brain, the formation of tumors in the lung airways
and arteriolosclerosis in the aorta. The sample comprises of smokers, past-smokers and
non-smokers. This is to gain an understanding of how these groups differ in perception of
health consciousness, emotion and reaction towards the advertisement, and trust and
perception of the fear message content in advertisements. From the results of this study,
it appears that fear appeal advertisements are more likely to induce adaptive responses
in individuals (e.g. smokers) who have yet to engage in negative behavior as well as in
individuals who had once engaged but stopped (e.g. past smokers).

Effective and ineffective use of fear in health promotion campaigns by R.F. Soames
Health promotion campaigns are typically designed to elicit fear, yet the use of fear is
often ineffective in achieving the desired behavior change. Campaigns which attempt to
use fear as part of a punishment procedure are unlikely to succeed. Consistent with
established principles of learning, fear is most likely to be effective if the campaign allows
for the desired behavior to be reinforced by a reduction in the level of fear. This entails
five requirements: 1) fear onset should occur before the desired behavior is offered; 2)
the event upon which the fear is based should appear to be likely; 3) a specific desired
behavior should be offered as part of the campaign; 4) the level of fear elicited should
only be such that the desired behavior offered is sufficient to substantially reduce the fear;
5) fear offset should occur as a re in forcer for the desired behavior, confirming its
effectiveness. Under some circumstances it may be difficult to ensure that these
requirements are met. In general, a positive reinforcement approach may prove to be
more effective than the use of fear.

Intrinsic characteristics of health related fear appeals from Chinese print OTC ads:
Implications for fear message construction by Vivan C. Sheer & Ling Chen, Hong
Kong Baptist University
Focusing on intrinsic message characteristics, a textual analysis of unique print ads of
over-the-counter medicine (OTC) from China suggests cross-cultural validity of the four-
component structure — severity, susceptibility, response efficacy, and personal efficacy
for fear-appeal construction. The content and message framing reflect the Chinese
cultural values of auspiciousness, family harmony, relational co-dependence, and “face,”
and also explain the additional feature of “other efficacy” findings. An extended fear
message model is proposed to incorporate the targeting approach of self efficacy, other
efficacy, value sensitive threats, and susceptibility portrayal.

A study of the effectiveness of fear appeals PSA's on young adult college students
by Ron Lennon, University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee & Randall Rentfro,
Nova Southeastern University
We examined the effectiveness of Fear Appeal Public Service Announcements (PSA’s)
as judged by young adult college students. The Fear Appeals literature indicates that the
effectiveness of PSA’s should be related to three factors: (1) fear arousal (2) perceived
threat from the behavior and (3) perceived efficacy of behavior changes. Our study
examined whether PSA’s can be effective with young adult college students, given the
exposure to graphic images in the media, video games, and movies that is prevalent in
today’s society. As expected, we found that the higher the fear arousal from the PSA, the
higher the effectiveness ratings of the PSA. The video that was judged to be most graphic
was rated to be highly effective, indicating that young adult college students can still be
reached by Fear Appeal PSA’s, albeit ones with extremely graphic content. We also
found perceived threat and perceived efficacy were not statistically significant factors in
predicting the effectiveness ratings of these participants.

The Effect of Fear Appeal HIV/AIDS Communication on Behavioural Intent by

Marlize Terblanche-Smit, Nic S. Terblanche, Martin Kidd, Stellenbosch University
Specific research to guide marketing managers in social-issue related communication
remains under explored. The increases in various social problems have caused
practitioners to return to fear appeals as a motivation with the emphasis on the severity of
the threat. The Aids pandemic is a major concern and some advertising campaigns do not
seem to be producing the expected results. This study used structural equation modelling
to investigate whether the use of fear increases the likelihood of adopting appropriate
behaviour pertaining to HIV/AIDS communication. Fear, attitude towards the
advertisements, severity, susceptibility and efficacy were examined to ascertain the
influence of fear appeals and to build on the understanding of these constructs. The
findings of this paper indicate a strong relationship among susceptibility, fear, attitude and
behavioural intent.
Statement of the problem

This research was conducted to know:

• What is the reason for using fear appeal in advertisements?
• What is the effect of fear appeal advertisements on consumer behavior especially
on youths, which is so much exposed to the advertisements?
• What level of fear appeal should be used in advertisements to get the desired
Objectives of the study

The objectives of the research are as follows:-

1. To study the reasons for using fear appeal in health advertising
2. To analyze the effectiveness of using fear appeal on young consumer minds
3. To observe which type of fear appeal is most effective in promoting health
4. To know at what stage fear works the best.
Research methodology

Research methods or techniques refer to the methods the researchers use in performing
research operations. Research methodology consider the logic behind the methods we
use in the context of our research study and explain why we are using a particular
method or technique and why we are not using others so that research results are
capable of being evaluated either by the researcher himself or by others. While deciding
about the method of data collection to be used for the study, the researcher should keep
in mind two types of data: primary and secondary.

The primary data are those which are collected afresh and for the first time, and thus
happen to be original in character. For the purpose of my study, I interviewed youths
between 18-35 age group.

The secondary data, on the other hand, are those which have already been collected by
someone else and which have already been passed through the statistical process. As far
as secondary data is concerned, I took help from various books, researches and surfed
various related websites.

The purpose of the project is to study the effectiveness of fear appeal advertisements in
health related issues on the youths of 18-35 age groups.

For the fulfillment of the purpose of this research project, 10 to 12 advertisements related
to health were collected and shown to the respondents and then a questionnaire has
been designed (please see Annexure) to study what effect fear appeal advertisements
has on youths. The questionnaire comprises of 19 questions, which helps us to know
about various reactions and perceptions, people develop after watching the health related
advertisements. Depending upon the resources available in terms of money and
manpower, it was decided to conduct a sample survey consisting of 40 youths. Simple
random sampling technique was adopted and randomly 40 youths were selected
according to the convenience. In case a selected sample was not available for answering
the queries, then the sample was replaced by another sample. After this the process of
filling up the questionnaire was started. Before collecting the data, the respondents were
explained the purpose of the study, types of questions to be placed before them and they
are shown few health advertisements for checking their recall value. This helped them to
answer the questions more clearly and precisely.

Research Design (descriptive or exploratory)

A comprehensive literature review was followed by a quantitative study that explored in-
depth responses, with 40 respondents in total. Youths between the age of 18 and 35
years, from Delhi were identified as the study population. In quantitative study the survey
method will be used and the questionnaire will be given to the respondents. The study
was an aided recall test where the advertisements will be shown to the respondents and
then questions will be asked to test the recall of the ads which use fear appeal for
promoting awareness related to health.

Sample and Sampling Technique

A sample of 40 respondents was selected in the age group of 18-35 years randomly and
questionnaire was distributed to them. Random sampling technique has been selected as
this will help in keeping the research free of any bias.
(isme batana hai ki probability sampling hai yah no non prbablity sampling)
The target population for our research was defined as the students selected in the age
group of 18-35 years.
the extent of the survey was limited to the cms ip universityof Delhi.

Sampling frame can be defined as all the youth wo were exposed to all mediums of
Once the sampling frame was decided, simple random sampling method was used to
select the respondents. In this, almost everyone in the sampling frame had an equal
chance of being selected and we got the responses filled through those people who were
readily and willingly accepting to fill it.
To some extent judgment sampling was also used,, where the questionnaires were given
to acquainted .

Research Procedure
The research has been conducted with the help of questionnaire. Questionnaire was
distributed to 40 respondents after showing them few advertisements on which the
questionnaire was designed. Some responses were collected through mailed
(no. of question ,open ended close ended)
Data Interpretation - method used
The data collected has been interpreted using the quantitative and qualitative methods.
The answers has been coded and then represented with the help of table and graphs.
After that each answer was analyzed based on the outcome of the answer.

Type of research (survey)


Based on the type of analysis, class interval was decided and various ranges form results
were designed. We gave different codes to different ranges as per the requirement of the
research. These codes are as follows:

Code Sheet
Q.1. Always = a
Sometimes = b
Ignore it = c
Neutral = d
Q.2. Yes = a
No = b
Don’t know = c

Q.3. Very Important = a

Not Important = b
Don’t Know = c

Q.4. Informative =a
Direct = b
Explanatory = c
Any Other = d

Q.5. Yes = a
No = b
Don’t Know = c

Q.6. The ad which threatens you = a

The ad which warns you = b
The ad which scares you = c
The ad which shows solution to a problem = d
All of the above = e
Don’t know = f

Q.7. Gets attention = a

Gives information = b
Shocks people = c
Provides entertainment = d
Warns people = e

Q.8. Visuals = a
Slogan = b
Message = c
Headline = d
Content = e
All of the above = f

Q.9. More effect = a

Less effect = b
Same effect = c

Q.10. Product advertising = a

Health advertising = b
Service advertising = c
Classified advertising = d
Depends on the stage of the ad life cycle = e

Q.11. Positive consequences like solution to the problem = a

Negative consequences like death = b
Issue warnings or threatens people = c
Any other = d

Q.12. Agree = a
Disagree = b

Q.13 is an open-ended question; therefore the answers were categorized into the

Q.13. Yes = a
No = b
A little = c
Can’t say = d

Q.14. is a match the following question, which was divided into two categories:
Q.14. Correct = a
Not correct = b
Q.15, 16, 17, 18, 19 are open ended questions, which were categorized according to the
answer given by the respondents into the following categories.

Q.15. Yes = a
No = b

Q.16. Yes = a
No = b
Don’t know = c
May be = d

Q.17. Yes = a
No = b
Depends = c

Q.18. Yes = a
No = b
Depends on ads = c

Q.19. Yes = a
No = b
Sometimes = c


TABLE: Q.1. How often you notice an advertisement related to health/diseases?

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative
y percentage
Valid a) 8 20 -
b) 26 65 20
c) 3 7.5 85
d) 3 7.5 92.5
Total 40 100 100


40 sometimes
30 ignore it


ANALYSIS: In this question respondents were asked that how often they notice
advertisements related to health. As per the results shown above we conclude that the
health advertisements are noticed sometimes and not always. A healthy 65% said they
don’t notice health ads always and sometimes only they prefer to notice it. This shows
that health ads have to be improved to be noticed by the youths.

TABLE: Q.2. Do you think advertising is an effective tool of providing information

to public on issues related to treatment of mental health?
Frequenc Percentile Cumulative
y percentage
Valid a) 39 97.5 -
b) 0 0 97.5
c) 1 2.5 97.5
Total 40 100 100



60 yes
40 don’t know


ANALYSIS: It is clear from above that 97.5% youths believe that advertising is an
effective tool for providing information on issues related to treatment of mental health.
While 2.5% are not clear about advertising’s effectiveness as a tool for spreading
awareness about mental health.

TABLE: Q.3. How important is the message in health advertising?

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative
y percentage
Valid a) 39 97.5 -
b) 1 2.5 97.5
c) 0 100
Total 40 100 100

60 very important
50 not important
40 don’t know

ANALYSIS: The message of the health ads is very important as it is clear from the graph.
97.5% are of the opinion that message plays an important in health ads.
TABLE: Q.4. Health ads are read or noticed when they are
Frequenc Percentile Cumulative
y percentage
Valid a) 19 47.5 -
b) 10 25 47.5
c) 8 20 72.5
d) 3 7.5 92.5
Total 40 100 100

20 explanatory
any other

ANALYSIS: This question is designed to know when health ads are noticed. It is clear
from above that 47.5% youth like health ads to be informative, 25% wants it to be direct,
and 20% opted for the explanatory mode. 7.5% opted for any other in which they said
story telling or shocking nature of ads can be used to promote health awareness.

TABLE: Q.5. Have you noticed the use of fear appeal (shock/ scare/ warning/ alert)
in health advertising? Yes/No specify.

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 35 87.5 -
b) 4 10 87.5
c) 1 2.5 97.5
Total 40 100 100

don’t know
ANALYSIS: In this question respondents were introduced to fear appeal. They are told
about it and asked whether they have noticed the use of fear appeal in health ads or not.
87.5% said yes while 10% said no. This shows that youths fully understood the concept of
fear appeal.

TABLE: Q.6. What according to you is fear appeal?

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative
y percentage
Valid a) 3 7.5 -
b) 17 42.5 7.5
c) 9 22.5 50
d) 3 7.5 72.5
e) 8 20 80
f) 0 0 100
Total 40 100 100

solution to a
20 problem
all of the above
don’t know

ANALYSIS: Now in this question people were asked about what is their perception of fear
appeal. As it can be seen, 42.5% relate fear appeal to the ads that warn them. Whereas
22.5% said they associate fear appeal with ads that scares them, while 20% believes that
fear appeal constitute all of the above components i.e. threat, warning, scaring and
showing solution to a problem. This question analyzes the respondents knowledge about
fear appeal after it has been explained earlier. The result shows that the answers and
peoples perception about fear appeal is good.

TABLE: Q.7. How does fear contribute to the ad message?

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative
y percentage
Valid a) 22 55 -
b) 9 22.5 55
c) 5 12.5 77.5
d) 2 5 90
e) 2 5 95
Total 40 100 100

60 attention
shocks people

20 provides
warns people

ANALYSIS: this question is being designed to know how fear appeal contributes to the ad
message. 55% people said that fear helps in getting attention towards the ad message
and that can be the reason for using fear appeal in ads especially health ads. they believe
that that health ads need to grab attention as it is spreading awareness about a disease
and fear appeal helps in getting that required attention in otherwise boring message.

TABLE: Q.8. Fear can be instilled in advertising most effectively through

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative
y percentage
Valid a) 19 47.5 -
b) 3 7.5 47.5
c) 2 5 55
d) 3 7.5 60
e) 1 2.5 67.5
f) 12 30 70
Total 40 100 100

40 visuals
20 headline
10 all of the above

ANALYSIS: Fear appeal helps in getting attention as it has been proved in previous
question, now in this question youths were asked that which element of ad can prove to
be most effective for installing the fear in consumers mind. Visuals speak thousand
words; it has been proved by 47.5% youths who believe a visual depicting fear will be the
most effective. 30% said that all the components i.e. visuals, slogan, message, headline
and content clubbed together will have a great effect in installing fear in consumers mind.

TABLE: Q.9. Compare the use of fear with

a) Fear appeal vs Humor appeal
Frequenc Percentile Cumulative
y percentage
Valid a) 14 50 -
b) 20 35 35
c) 6 15 85
Total 40 100 100
30 more effect
25 less effect
20 same effect

b) Fear appeal vs Sex appeal

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 17 42.5 -
b) 18 45 42.5
c) 5 12.5 87.5
Total 40 100 100



30 m ore effect
less effect
sam e effect

c) Fear appeal vs Rational appeal

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 17 42.5 -
b) 14 35 42.5
c) 9 22.5 77.5
Total 40 100 100

m ore effect
less effect
15 sam e effect

d) Fear appeal vs Celebrity appeal

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 17 42.5 -
b) 13 32.5 42.5
c) 10 25 75
Total 40 100 100

more effect
less effect
same effect

e) Fear appeal vs Culture appeal

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 16 40 -
b) 9 22.5 40
c) 15 37.5 62.5
Total 40 100 100

25 more effect
20 less effect
15 same effect

ANALYSIS: This question was designed to know that which appeal youths find more
effective as compared to fear appeal. This question has five subparts asking about the
effectiveness of different advertising appeals. This is a hypothetical question based on
the assumption that if health messages could be said using other appeal than which one
it would be.
In the first part respondents were asked that whether fear appeal is more, less or
has the same effect in comparison to humor appeal. 50% youths feel that humor will be
more effective than the fear appeal.
In the second part, fear appeal was compared with the sex appeal and it was
observed that there is marginal difference. 45% fell that it will be less effective as the
message will be lost whereas 42.5% believed that the sex appeal will be able to attract
and hold the attention of the audiences to the message more effectively. There is a
difference of only 2.5% for sex appeal to be more effective.
42.5% respondents told that rational appeal is more effective than the fear appeal,
whereas 33% are of the opinion that fear appeal scores over rational appeal.
Celebrities help in spreading the message more effectively, this has been proved
by the 42.5% youths. They believe that in a country like India where people worship
celebrities, in that country using a celebrity for spreading health message can bring
Culture appeal is that where culture has been portrayed in advertising. 40% people
have the opinion that it will be more effective as compared to the fear appeal. While
37.5% believes that is will have same effect as that of fear appeal.
From the above answers it can be concluded that humor appeal is popular and attracts
people, after that rational and celebrity appeal comes and then culture appeal is found to
be more effective than fear appeal. Sex appeal on the other hand has a difference of just
2.5% to be more effective than fear appeal.

TABLE: Q.10. In your opinion fear appeal works best in a

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 27 67.5 -
b) 6 15 67.5
c) 0 0 82.5
d) 7 17.5 82.5
Total 40 100 100

70 health ads

50 service ads

30 product ads
10 depends upon
the stage of the
0 ad life cycle

ANALYSIS: In this question respondents were asked that in what type of advertising the
fear appeal works bet. 67.5% respondents feel that fear appeal will be more effective in
health ads, where it becomes necessary to scare, warn and threaten people about the
consequences of a disease or bad habit.

TABLE: Q.11. According to you fear appeal in health ads will work only if it shows

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 6 15 -
b) 2 10 15
c) 3 7.5 25
d) 26 65 32.5
e) 1 2.5 97.5
Total 40 100 100

70 consequences
50 consequenes

40 issue warnings

20 shows problem
& suggest
10 solution
0 any other

ANALYSIS: According to 65% youths showing problem and then suggesting solution to
that problem is what people look in health ads. Only 7.5% are in the favor of showing
negative consequences. This question tells us about the level of fear appeal to be used in
health ads. it shows that moderate level of fear should be used in ads.

TABLE: Q.12. Showing extreme fear (like death) in health ads will help in eradicating the
problems related to health. If disagree, then explain.

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 18 45 -
b) 22 55 45

Total 40 100 100





ANALYSIS: Showing extreme fear won’t help in eradicating the problem, feels 55%
youths, they believe that extreme fear will only make the people to skip that channel and
avoid that ad. Whereas 45% agree with the fact that showing extreme fear will help in
eradicating the problem. According to them dreaded diseases and their consequences
need to be shown in negative light so that people don’t follow that wrong path.

TABLE: Q.13. In the advertisements shown to you earlier, do you think use of fear
contribute to the ad message. How?

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 27 67.5 -
b) 10 25 67.5
c) 1 2.5 92.5
d) 2 5 95
Total 40 100 100

40 no
30 a little

20 cant say


ANALYSIS: This question is based on the advertisements shown to the respondents

before distributing the questionnaire. They are asked that whether in these fear
contributed to the ad message or not. 67.5% respondents answered in the favor, saying
that the ads depict fear by showing the consequences or impact of the bad habits.
Another respondent said in reference to the smoking ads that ”it gave a new dimension to
your thinking and the sad aspect of life was presented very symphatically and it weighted
on my mind.”

TABLE: Q.14. On the basis of advertisements shown to you earlier, please match the

Name of the ads Slogans

1. Don’t drink and drive Passive smoke kills your dearest ones first

2. Anti smoking Balbir Pasha roz savere kis ke saath

jaagtha hai?

3. Amul What if your life depended on how fast

you can read this sentence?

4. Say no to drugs Choose life. Not tobacco.

5. I pill Aids ki roktham condom se hi hai

1. Passive smoke: Deadlier It kills you earlier

than you think

7. Aids awareness Emergency contraceptive pills

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 17 42.5 -
b) 23 57.5 42.5

Total 40 100 100



not correct


ANALYSIS: In this question the recall value of the respondents was tested. It was
surprising to note that 57.5% respondents couldn’t recall the slogan of the ads shown to
them earlier. It can be concluded that though people feel that fear appeal manages to get
attention to the ad message, but in this recall test it is proved that the ad message hasn’t
managed to hold the attention of the respondents.

TABLE: Q.15. Can you recall the slogan of any health related ad campaigns? If yes,

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 15 37.5 -
b) 25 62.5 37.5

Total 40 100 100



40 yes
30 no


ANALYSIS: The validity of the 14th question has been checked in this question by asking
the respondents a direct question that whether they remember the slogan of any health
ad or not. 62.5% couldn’t recall the slogan of any health ad.

TABLE: Q.16. Do you believe that fear in advertising overshadows the brand?

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 15 37.5 -
b) 21 52.5 37.5
c) 3 7.5 90
d) 1 2.5 97.5
Total 40 100 100



40 yes
don’t know
m ay be

ANALYSIS: This question has been designed to know the impact of fear appeal on the
brand or the organization that advertises. 52.5% believes that it has no impact on the
brand or the organization and they can easily recall the brand name.

TABLE: Q.17. Do you think fear is the only way in advertising to spread awareness about
Frequenc Percentile Cumulative
y percentage
Valid a) 12 30 -
b) 27 67.5 30
c) 1 2.5 97.5
Total 40 100 100

depends on ads

ANALYSIS: No is the answer of the question that whether fear is the only way in
advertising to spread the awareness about health. 67.5% feels that there can be other
ways or appeal which can be used to spread awareness about health through advertising.

TABLE: Q.18. Does health advertisement using fear appeal threaten your freedom or
social acceptance? If yes, specify/ no, specify.

Frequenc Percentile Cumulative

y percentage
Valid a) 14 35 -
b) 25 62.5 35
c) 1 2.5 97.5
Total 40 100 100


50 yes

depends on

ANALYSIS: 62.5% youths said that the health ads using fear appeal doesn’t threaten
their freedom or social acceptance that they might get after being in indulged in the bad
habits shown in these ads like smoking. So it can be concluded that the health ads are
not proving effective.

TABLE: Q.19. Has any health advertisement brought a change in your habit or lifestyle?
Frequenc Percentile Cumulative
y percentage
Valid a) 23 40 -
b) 16 57.5 57.5
c) 1 2.5 97.5
Total 40 100 100

40 yes
30 no
20 som etim es


ANALYSIS: A direct question has been asked about the effectiveness of health ads.
57.5% said that there has been no change in their habits or lifestyle after watching these
health ads. Q. 18 and 19 proved that health ads are not so effective even if they are using
fear appeal for spreading the awareness.

Fear appeal helps in getting attention

Fear has become an intrinsic part of health advertisements. Fear is being used as it
warns, scares, shocks and threatens people and has good implications on consumer
behavior. 55% youths believe that fear helps in getting attention and forces them to listen
and register the ad message. It helps to easily register the ad message as one of its
components is to scare people.

The 67.5% youths are in the favor that fear appeal works best in health advertisements.
According to them fear will be able to compel people to take the required action for the
betterment of their health. 60% believes that the best way to instill fear is through visuals
as visuals speak thousand words.

Fear appeal is less effective than humor appeal but more effective than sex appeal

50% youths said that they would like to see the humor in a health advertisement without
shifting the focus from the issue to which it is catering. These people liked the “Jo samjha
vohi sikander” condom ad. But for these youths fear scores over sex appeal as they
believe that using sex appeal will dilute the seriousness of the message.

Moderate level of fear works best

65% people proved that moderate level of fear works best especially those ads which
show solution to a problem rather than those ads which show extreme fear. They believe
that people should be motivated towards and not be discouraged from living. Hence,
moderate level of fear should be shown in advertisements which will not only attract
required attention towards the subject but will also inform people about the various
preventive measures of a disease.

Recall value
The recall value of the respondents is not good, as 62.5% respondents couldn’t recall the
slogan of any health ad. The slogan which is supposed to be a great tool of recall has not
proved effective in the case of health ads. Respondents have also not able to match the
slogans with the ads which were shown to them in the beginning before giving the

No change in habit or lifestyle

The effectiveness of fear appeal can be measured from the fact that in 57.5% youth’s
health advertisements has brought no change in their habit or lifestyle. This point out the
fact that though, youths feel that fear appeal helps in getting instant attention towards the
ad message and moderate level of fear works best, but it is not proving sufficient to
compel these youngsters to bring a change in their lifestyle or habit.

However 40% get affected by these ads and changed their habit and lifestyle. Such one
person is Flourina D Souza, 34 year old, who uses very less oil for cooking. Another
person is Rahul Talreja, 24 year old, who always have protected sex after watching the
AIDS advertisements.

There have been few limitations faced while conducting the research. There are as
1. The duration for conducting the research was very short.
2. The sample size taken for the research was very small. The sample size was taken
according to the convenience.
3. Due to time constraints the questionnaire was mailed to few respondents and
some answers were not attempted by few respondents.

The research was conducted to know how effective are health advertisements which use
fear appeal as a strategy for spreading awareness and influencing the behavior of urban
youths in Delhi. It can be concluded from the research that though youths find that using
fear appeal in health advertisements is of great advantage as it helps in getting instant
attention but it hasn’t managed to bring a change in people’s life. As the data shows that
only 40% youth said that health advertisements brought a change in their lifestyle. A
strong 57.5% are still unaffected by these advertisements.

It should be noticed that 55% youth said that fear appeal helps in getting attention but still
majority of them couldn’t recall the slogan of any health related advertisement. This
proves that fear appeal is not proving effective enough to hold the attention, so now its
time that advertisers start thinking of other strategies that may help in good recall value of
the ads.

People agree that fear should be shown in moderation, otherwise extreme fear leads to
the ignorance and blockage of mind. Here the protection motivation theory is proved
correct as respondents have ignored a smoking advertisement showing distraught face
as a result of smoking. Moderate level of fear should be used so that the audience don’t
swap or ignore the ad. The advertisement should show hope or suggest the possible
solution to the problem.

It also came out during the research where respondents were asked whether they would
like to see any other appeal instead of fear appeal in health advertisements, majority of
them said that humor appeal can prove to be effective. So the health advertisements can
experiment with the humor appeal if fear appeal is not proving to be effective and is not
leading to good recall value and desired change in the behavior.