Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 403-409

First online:

Masculinity and Intentions to Perform Health Behaviors: The Effectiveness of Fear Control Arguments

  • Murray G. MillarAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Nevada Email author 
  • , Jeremy Ashton HouskaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Nevada

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This study examined the impact of fear control and danger control messages on intentions to perform health behaviors. It was hypothesized that persons high in masculinity would be more influenced by messages that address fear than messages that exclusively focus on the efficacy of the behavior (danger control). To test this proposition, 172 participants were classified into high and low masculinity groups according to their scores on the Bem Sex Role Inventory, and randomly assigned fear reducing or danger control messages either encouraging detection behavior (skin cancer self-examination) or promotion behavior (sunscreen usage). Highly masculine participants demonstrated greater behavioral intentions and more positive attitudes about the behavior when exposed to a fear-reducing message. The results suggest that it is possible to motivate adaptive health behavior even when a person is engaging in fear control.


Extended parallel process model Personality characteristics Masculinity Detection behaviors Prevention behaviors Skin cancer