"Don't Make my Mistake": on the Processing of Narrative Fear Appeals

J.A. Ooms, C.J.M. Jansen, Saar Hommes, J.C.J. Hoeks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we examined the mechanism underlying the processing of narrative fear appeals. Participants (N = 564) read a story about a protagonist dealing with the consequences of cancer (Study 1: testicular cancer; Study 2: breast cancer; Study 3: skin cancer). Path analysis revealed that (1) attitude and behavioral intention toward performing self-exams were directly and positively associated with a form of transportation we identified as attention-focused transportation; (2) this form of transportation was positively associated with four emotions (fear, sadness, surprise, and compassion), whereas identification positively correlated with only one emotion (compassion); and (3) only the emotion of fear was a predictor of intention to perform self-exams. Taken together, these findings suggest that attention-focused transportation is a very important factor in the processing of narrative fear appeals, and that it can even, under some circumstances, replace the persuasive power of fear.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4924
Number of pages4945
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Fear appeal; Narrative; Emotion; Attention; Transportation; Identification; Persuasion; Health communication


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