Though fear appeals have largely been the default emotional appeal to motivate prosocial behaviors, research indicates that other emotionally charged messages, like those using humor, may also be effective. We conducted an experiment to compare the effects of fear and humor appeals on climate change-related behavioral intentions and perceived risk of climate change. We randomly assigned young adults to view one of three videos about climate change (fear, humor, informational) or a control video. Compared to control, viewing the fear or humor appeal produced greater climate change activism intentions, but only the fear appeal directly affected risk perceptions. Mediation analyses highlighted tradeoffs for fear and humor appeals, and moderation analyses demonstrated an age-by-appeal interaction effect on intentions and perceived risk.
; Niederdeppe, J
; Romero-Canyas, R
; Skurka, C
(2018). Pathways of Influence in Emotional Appeals: Benefits and Tradeoffs of Using Fear or Humor to Promote Climate Change-Related Intentions and Risk Perceptions Journal of Communication
Issue 1, Volume 68, 169–193.