Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 273–285 | Cite as

A Model of the Effects of Self-efficacy on the Perceived Ethicality and Performance of Fear Appeals in Advertising

  • Robin L. Snipes
  • Michael S. LaTour
  • Sara J. Bliss


The primary purpose of this study was to better understand the effects of consumers' perceived self-efficacy on their perceptions of the ethicality of a fear appeal and subsequent attitudes towards the ad, the brand, and purchase intentions. In this study, a total of 305 consumer responses were investigated to determine attitudes toward a fear appeal ad. The results suggest that the use of strong fear appeals may not be perceived as unethical if consumers feel they can use the recommended product to effectively eliminate the threat posed by the ad.


Economic Growth Purchase Intention Consumer Response Subsequent Attitude Fear Appeal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aaker, David A. and Donald E. Bruzzone: 1985, ‘Causes of Irritation in Advertising’, Journal of Marketing 49(2), 47–57.Google Scholar
  2. Aaker, David A. and Douglas M. Stayman: 1990, ‘Measuring Audience Perceptions of Commercials and Relating Them to Ad Impact’, Journal of Advertising Research 30(4), 7–17.Google Scholar
  3. Alwitt, Linda F. and Paul R. Prabhaker: 1994, ‘Identifying Who Dislikes Television Advertising: Not by Demographics Alone’, Journal of Advertising Research, 17–29.Google Scholar
  4. Andrews, J. C.: 1989, ‘The Dimensionality of Beliefs Toward Advertising in General’, Journal of Advertising 18(1), 26–35.Google Scholar
  5. Batra, Rajeev and Michael L. Ray: 1986, ‘Affective Responses Mediating Acceptance of Advertising’, Journal of Consumer Research 13(2), 234–249.Google Scholar
  6. Benet, Suzeanne, Robert E. Pitts and Michael LaTour: 1993, ‘The Appropriateness of Fear Appeal Use for Health Care Marketing to the Elderly: Is it OK to Scare Granny?’, Journal of Business Ethics 12, 45–55.Google Scholar
  7. Burke, Marian C. and Julie A. Edell: 1989, ‘The Impact of Feelings on Ad-Based Affect and Cognition’, Journal of Marketing Research 26(1), 69–83.Google Scholar
  8. Burnett, John J. and Richard L. Oliver: 1989 ‘Fear Appeal Effects in the Field: A Segmentation Approach,’ Journal of Marketing Research 16, 181–190.Google Scholar
  9. Burnett, John J. and Robert E. Wilkes: 1980, ‘Fear Appeals to Segments Only’, Journal of Advertising Research 20(5), 21–24.Google Scholar
  10. Bush, Alan J. and Victoria Davies Bush: 1994, ‘The Narrative Paradigm as a Perspective for Improving Ethical Evaluations of Advertisements’, Journal of Advertising 23(3) (September), 31–41.Google Scholar
  11. Bush, Alan J. and Joseph F. Hair, Jr.: 1985, ‘An Assessment of the Mall Intercept as a Data Collection Method’, Journal of Marketing Research 22(2): 158–167.Google Scholar
  12. Colford, Steven W.: 1994, ‘TV Ads to Get Violence Exam’, Advertising Age (July 4), 40.Google Scholar
  13. deTurck, Mark A., Gerald M. Goldhaber, Gary M. Richetto and Melissa J. Young: 1992, ‘Effects of Fear-Arousing Warning Messages’, Journal of Products Liability 14(2), 217–223.Google Scholar
  14. Duke, Charles R. Gregory M. Pickett, Les Carlson and Stephen J. Grove: 1993, ‘A Method for Evaluating the Ethics of Fear Appeals’, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing 1(1), 120–129.Google Scholar
  15. Durand, R. and Z. Lambert: 1985, ‘Alienation and Criticisms of Advertising’, Journal of Advertising 14(3), 9–17.Google Scholar
  16. Edell, Julie A. and Marian C. Burke: 1987, ‘The Power of Feelings in Understanding Advertising Ethics’, Journal of Consumer Research 14(3), 421–433.Google Scholar
  17. Evans, R. I., R. M. Rozelle, T. M. Lasater, T. M. Dembroski and B. P. Allen: 1970, ‘Fear Arousal, Persuasion, and Actual Versus Implied Behavior Change: New Perspectives Utilizing a Real-Life Dental Hygiene Program’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 16, 220–227.Google Scholar
  18. Ferrell, O. C. and Larry G. Gresham: 1985, ‘A Contingency Framework for Understanding Ethical Decision Making in Marketing’, Journal of Marketing 49(3), 87–96.Google Scholar
  19. Fraedrich, John and O. C. Ferrell: 1992, ‘Cognitive Consistency of Marketing Managers in Ethical Situations’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 20(3), 245–251.Google Scholar
  20. Garfield, Bob: 1993, ‘Roy Rogers Isn't Chicken About Violence on TV’, Advertising Age (August 9).Google Scholar
  21. Garfield, Bob: 1990, ‘Good Taste Takes Deep Dive in Bungee Ad for Reebok Pump’, Advertising Age (April), 52.Google Scholar
  22. Goerne, Carrie: 1992, ‘Gun Companies Target Women; Foes Call it “Marketing to Fear”’, Marketing News (August 31), 1.Google Scholar
  23. Haley, Russell I.: 1990, ‘The ARF Copy Research Validity Project: Final Report’, in Transcript Proceedings of the Seventh Annual ARF Copy Research Workshop (Advertising Research Foundation, New York).Google Scholar
  24. Henthorne, Tony L. and Michael S. LaTour: 1994, ‘A Model to Explore the Ethics of Erotic Stimuli in Print Advertising’, Journal of Business Ethics 13, 1–9.Google Scholar
  25. Henthorne, Tony L., Michael S. LaTour and Rajan Nataraajan: 1993, ‘Fear Appeals in Print Advertising: An Analysis of Arousal and Ad Response’, Journal of Advertising 22(2), 59–68.Google Scholar
  26. Higbee, Kenneth L.: 1969, ‘Fifteen Years of Fear Arousal: Research on Threat Appeals: 1953–1968’, Psychological Bulletin 72(6), 426–444.Google Scholar
  27. Hyman, Michael R. and Richard Tansey. ‘The Ethics of Psychoactive Ads’, Journal of Business Ethics 9(2), 105–114.Google Scholar
  28. Hyman, Michael R., Richard Tansey, James W. Clark: 1994, ‘Research on Advertising Ethics: Past, Present, and Future’, Journal of Advertising 23(3), 5–15.Google Scholar
  29. Hunt, Shelby D. and Scott Vitell: 1986), ‘A General Theory of Marketing Ethics’, Journal of Macromarketing 6, 5–16.Google Scholar
  30. Jaffe, Lynn and Paul Berger: 1994, ‘The Effects of Modern Female Role Portrayals on Advertising Effectiveness’, Journal of Advertising Research 34(4), 32–42.Google Scholar
  31. Janis, I.: ‘Effects of Fear Arousal on Attitude Change: Recent Developments in Theory and Experimental Research’, in L. Berkowitz (ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 3 (Academic Press, Inc., New York), pp. 166–224.Google Scholar
  32. Janis, Irving L. and Seymour Feshbach: 1953, ‘Effects of Fear-Arousing Communications’, The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 48(1), 78–92.Google Scholar
  33. King, Karen Whitehill and Leonard N. Reid: 1990, ‘Fear Arousing Anti-Drinking and Driving PSA': Do Physical Injury Threats Influence Young Adults?’, Current Issues and Research in Advertising, Vol. 12 (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI), pp. 155–176.Google Scholar
  34. Krisher III, Howard P., Susan A. Darley and John M. Darley: 1973, ‘Fear-Provoking Recommendations, Intentions, to Take Preventive Actions, and Actual Preventive Actions’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 26(2), 301–308.Google Scholar
  35. Lampel, Anita K. and Norman H. Anderson: 1968, ‘Combining Visual and Verbal Information in an Impression-Formation Task’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 9(1), 1–6.Google Scholar
  36. LaTour, Michael S. and Tony L. Henthorne: 1994, ‘Ethical Judgments of Sexual Appeals in Print Advertising’, Journal of Advertising 23(3), 81–90.Google Scholar
  37. LaTour, Michael S. and Robert E. Pitts: 1989, ‘Using Fear Appeals in Advertising for AIDS Prevention in the College-Age Population’, Journal of Health Care Marketing 9(3), 5–14.Google Scholar
  38. LaTour, Michael S., R. E. Pitts and D. C. Snook-Luther: 1990, ‘Female Nudity, Arousal and Ad Response: An Experimental Investigation’, Journal of Advertising 19(4), 51–62.Google Scholar
  39. LaTour, Michael S. and Herbert J. Rotfeld, ‘There are Threats and (Maybe) Fear-Caused Arousal: Theory and Confusions of Appeals to Fear and Fear Arousal Itself’, Journal of Advertising, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  40. LaTour, Michael S., Robin L. Snipes and Sara J. Bliss: 1996, ‘Don't Be Afraid to Use Fear Appeals: An Experimental Study of Fear Appeal Performance and Perceived Ethicality of Use’, to be printed in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Advertising Research.Google Scholar
  41. LaTour, Michael S. and S. A. Zahra: 1989, ‘Fear Appeals as Advertising Strategy: Should They be Used?’, The Journal of Consumer Marketing 6(3), 61–70.Google Scholar
  42. Leventhal, Howard, Jean C. Watts and Francia Pagano: 1967, ‘Effects of Fear and Instructions on How to Cope with Danger’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 6(3), 313–321.Google Scholar
  43. Mackenzie, Scott B., Richard J. Lutz and George E. Belch, 1986, ‘The Role of Attitude Toward the Ad and as a Mediator of Advertising Effectiveness: A Test of Competing Explanations’, Journal of Marketing Research 23(2), 130–143.Google Scholar
  44. Madden, Thomas J., Pamela Scholder Ellen, Icek Ajzen: 1992, ‘A Comparison of the Theory of Planned Behavior and the Theory of Reasoned Action’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 18(1), 3–9.Google Scholar
  45. McAneny, Leslie: 1992, ‘Pharmacists Again Top “Honesty and Ethics” Poll; Ratings for Congress Hit New Low’, The Gallup Poll Monthly (July), 2–3.Google Scholar
  46. Mittal, Banwari: 1994, ‘Public Assessment of TV Advertisement: Faint Praise and Harsh Criticism’, Journal of Advertising Research (January/February), 35–53.Google Scholar
  47. Moore, David W. and Lydia Saad: 1993, ‘Public Says: Too Much Violence on TV’, The Gallup Poll Monthly (August), 18–20.Google Scholar
  48. Nunnally, Jim C.: 1967, Psychometric Theory (McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York).Google Scholar
  49. Quinn, Valerie, Tony Meenaghan and Teresa Brannick: 1992, ‘Fear Appeals: Segmentation is the Way to Go’, International Journal of Advertising 11(4), 355–366.Google Scholar
  50. Ray, Michael L. and William L. Wilkie: 1970, ‘Fear: The Potential of an Appeal Neglected By Marketing’, Journal of Marketing 34(1), 54–62.Google Scholar
  51. Reidenbach, R. E. and D. P. Robin: 1988, ‘Some Initial Steps Toward Improving the Measurement Ethical Evaluations of Marketing Activities’, Journal of Business Ethics 7 (July), 871–879.Google Scholar
  52. Reidenbach, R. E. and D. P. Robin: 1990, ‘Toward the Development of a Multidimensional Scale for Improving Evaluations of Business Ethics’, Journal of Business Ethics 9, 639–653.Google Scholar
  53. Reidenbach, R. E., D. P. Robin and Lyndon Dawson: 1991, ‘An Application and Extension of a Multidimensional Ethics Scale to Selected Marketing Practices and Marketing Groups’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 19, 83–92.Google Scholar
  54. Rotfeld, Herbert J.:, 1989, ‘Fear Appeals and Persuasion: Assumptions and Errors in Advertising Research’, Current Issues and Research in Advertising 11, 21–40.Google Scholar
  55. Russell, J. T. and W. R. Lane: 1993, Kleppner' Advertising Procedures, 11th Edn. (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ).Google Scholar
  56. Sloan, P. and C. Horton: 1990, ‘Costly Controversies’, Advertising Age (April), 52.Google Scholar
  57. Sternthal, Brian and C. Samuel Craig: 1974, ‘Fear Appeals: Revisited and Revised’, Journal of Consumer Research 1(3), 22–34.Google Scholar
  58. Stewart, David: 1992, ‘Speculations on the Future of Advertising Research’, Journal of Advertising 21(3), 1–18.Google Scholar
  59. Stipp, Horst: 1992, ‘Crisis in Advertising’, Marketing Research 4, 39–46.Google Scholar
  60. Sutton, Stephen R. and J. Richard Eiser: 1984, ‘The Effect of Fear-Arousing Communications of Cigarette Smoking: An Expectancy-Value Approach’, Journal of Applied Social Psychology 15(2), 13–33.Google Scholar
  61. Tansey, Richard, Michael R. Hyman and Gene Brown: 1992, ‘Ethical Judgements About Wartime Ads Depicting Combat’, Journal of Advertising 21, 57–74.Google Scholar
  62. Thayer, Robert E.: 1986, ‘Activation-Deactivation Adjective Check List: Current Overview and Structural Analysis’, Psychological Reports 58(2), 607–614.Google Scholar
  63. Thorson and Friestad: 1985, ‘Advertising: Sold on Emotion’, Psychology Today 19(3), 9.Google Scholar
  64. Treise, Debbie, Michael F. Weigold, Jenneane Conna and Heather Garrison: ‘Ethics in Advertising: Ideological Correlates of Consumer Perceptions’, Journal of Advertising 23(3), (September), 59–69.Google Scholar
  65. Yahn, Steve: 1993, ‘No! to Feds Monitoring TV’, Advertising Age (October 25), 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin L. Snipes
    • 1
  • Michael S. LaTour
    • 2
  • Sara J. Bliss
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Business Administration, Abbott Turner School of BusinessColumbus State UniversityColumbus
  2. 2.Department of Marketing and Transportation, College of BusinessAuburn UniversityAuburn
  3. 3.Department of Management, College of BusinessAuburn UniversityAuburn

Personalised recommendations