Self- and Response Efficacy Information in Fear Appeals: A Meta-Analysis

Elisabeth Bigsby, Dolores Albarracín

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fear appeals are designed to inspire intended and actual actions to avert a danger. Although prior meta-analyses report that the average effect of fear appeals is moderately positive, the role of efficacy information is not completely understood. Prior work and fear appeal theories have argued that the presence of both response and self-efficacy information improves fear appeal success but the individual impacts of each have not been properly estimated. A meta-analysis (k ¼ 158, N ¼ 19,736) was conducted to examine the individual and combined effects of response and self-efficacy information contained in fear appeals on behavioral intentions and behaviors. Estimating the impact of fear appeals relative to low and no fear controls, the meta-analysis showed that fear appeals had a stronger influence on behavioral outcomes when they included positive response efficacy information but did not vary as a function of including self-efficacy information or negative response efficacy information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-263
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • Behavioral Outcomes
  • Extended Parallel Process Model
  • Fear Appeals
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Response Efficacy
  • Self-Efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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