Danger and fear control in response to fear appeals: The role of need for cognition

R A C Ruiter, B Verplanken, D De Cremer, G Kok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (SciVal)


This study examined the influence of need for cognition (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982) on adaptive and maladaptive responses to fear appeals. After measuring their need for cognition, participants read a high versus low threat message about breast cancer, followed by a persuasive message that recommended breast self-examination. Interaction effects between need for cognition and threat on measures of precautionary motivation supported our main hypothesis that fear appeals only result in adaptive coping (i.e., danger control) among respondents who are high in need for cognition. If possible, persuasive communicators may thus consider screening participants first on their need for cognition. On the other hand, predicted main effects of threat information on maladaptive coping (i.e., fear control) suggest that fear appeals should be used with caution, preceded by extensive pilot testing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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