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Four Perspectives on the Role of Fear in Persuasion
Unformatted Document Text:  Four Perspectives on . . . 22 Simonson & Lundy, 1967). A comprehensive test of the effects of acceleration would include fear inductions that were both relevant and irrelevant to the persuasive appeal. Such an experiment would not only help to resolve the ambiguity in our data, but might aid in clarifying some of the conflicting findings in the extant literature. A second general conclusion concerning emotion dynamics is that deceleration seems to have little, if any, impact on persuasion. This finding runs directly counter to any perspective that claims that it is the fear reduction that brings about agreement with an advocacy (e.g., Hovland, Janis, & Kelly, 1953). This conclusion aligns with research that has looked for interactions with other variables (Dabbs & Leventhal, 1966; Leventhal & Singer, 1966; Leventhal et al., 1965) and with investigations that manipulated arousal via false physiological feedback (Giesen & Hendrick, 1974; Hendrick et al., 1975). But, the data brought to bear by the current project are more direct than either of the earlier alternatives and, consequently, provide a more definitive rejection of the deceleration perspective than any to date. The claim that deceleration is unrelated to persuasion appears incompatible with Dolinski and Nawrat’s (1998) demonstration of a fear-then-relief effect. Yet, there exist a number of differences between the fear-then-relief research and the investigation reported in this paper that might account for conflicting results. For example, participants in the Dolinski and Nawrat studies were confronted, face-to-face, with a very brief request to immediately perform an action for the benefit of someone else. In contrast, our subjects read a much lengthier message that argued that they should protect themselves from temporally distal threat. Moreover, persons who were exposed to the fear-then-relief procedures were induced to feel alarm via manipulations that were logically unconnected to the request for compliance, while our fear appeal drew explicit

Authors: Dillard, James. and Anderson, Jason.
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Four Perspectives on . . .
22
Simonson & Lundy, 1967). A comprehensive test of the effects of acceleration would include
fear inductions that were both relevant and irrelevant to the persuasive appeal. Such an
experiment would not only help to resolve the ambiguity in our data, but might aid in clarifying
some of the conflicting findings in the extant literature.
A second general conclusion concerning emotion dynamics is that deceleration seems to
have little, if any, impact on persuasion. This finding runs directly counter to any perspective that
claims that it is the fear reduction that brings about agreement with an advocacy (e.g., Hovland,
Janis, & Kelly, 1953). This conclusion aligns with research that has looked for interactions with
other variables (Dabbs & Leventhal, 1966; Leventhal & Singer, 1966; Leventhal et al., 1965) and
with investigations that manipulated arousal via false physiological feedback (Giesen &
Hendrick, 1974; Hendrick et al., 1975). But, the data brought to bear by the current project are
more direct than either of the earlier alternatives and, consequently, provide a more definitive
rejection of the deceleration perspective than any to date.
The claim that deceleration is unrelated to persuasion appears incompatible with Dolinski
and Nawrat’s (1998) demonstration of a fear-then-relief effect. Yet, there exist a number of
differences between the fear-then-relief research and the investigation reported in this paper that
might account for conflicting results. For example, participants in the Dolinski and Nawrat
studies were confronted, face-to-face, with a very brief request to immediately perform an action
for the benefit of someone else. In contrast, our subjects read a much lengthier message that
argued that they should protect themselves from temporally distal threat. Moreover, persons who
were exposed to the fear-then-relief procedures were induced to feel alarm via manipulations that
were logically unconnected to the request for compliance, while our fear appeal drew explicit


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