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Four Perspectives on the Role of Fear in Persuasion
Unformatted Document Text:  Four Perspectives on . . . 9 There are, however, two lines of research that bear on the drive reduction hypothesis. In one approach, “other” variables, such as position of the recommendations, were manipulated that could be expected to interact with level of fear if the drive reduction hypothesis were valid (Dabbs & Leventhal, 1966; Leventhal & Singer, 1966; Leventhal, Singer, & Jones, 1965). None of these data showed the predicted interactions (Higbee, 1969, offers a summary and review). Although valuable in many respects, the evidence that these studies bring to bear on the question of emotional change and persuasion is circumstantial because it depends on “other” variables. It cannot, therefore, be viewed as conclusive. The other pertinent line of research utilized false feedback about physiological arousal as a predictor of persuasion. One study reported support for the drive reduction hypothesis (Harris & Jellison, 1971), but subsequent investigations gave no indication that fear deceleration produced persuasion (Giesen & Hendrick, 1974; Hendrick, Giesen, & Borden, 1975). Nonetheless, we have several reservations about equating the false feedback procedure with genuine emotion. For one, it involves only the cognitive system, rather than the multiple system activation that most writers agree define an emotion. Moreover, to accept the false feedback data as indicative of emotion is to assume that the inference of an emotional state from a meter reading is functionally equivalent to the experience of an emotion, an assumption that we are unwilling to make. Both concerns lead us to question the relevance of the false feedback data to the questions at hand. Moreover, one recent line of research suggests that there may still be merit in the deceleration perspective. The fear-then-relief model explicitly identifies the offset of fear as a proximal cause of compliance. In a series of five experiments, Dolinski and Nawrat (1998)

Authors: Dillard, James. and Anderson, Jason.
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Four Perspectives on . . .
9
There are, however, two lines of research that bear on the drive reduction hypothesis. In
one approach, “other” variables, such as position of the recommendations, were manipulated that
could be expected to interact with level of fear if the drive reduction hypothesis were valid
(Dabbs & Leventhal, 1966; Leventhal & Singer, 1966; Leventhal, Singer, & Jones, 1965). None
of these data showed the predicted interactions (Higbee, 1969, offers a summary and review).
Although valuable in many respects, the evidence that these studies bring to bear on the question
of emotional change and persuasion is circumstantial because it depends on “other” variables. It
cannot, therefore, be viewed as conclusive.
The other pertinent line of research utilized false feedback about physiological arousal as
a predictor of persuasion. One study reported support for the drive reduction hypothesis (Harris
& Jellison, 1971), but subsequent investigations gave no indication that fear deceleration
produced persuasion (Giesen & Hendrick, 1974; Hendrick, Giesen, & Borden, 1975).
Nonetheless, we have several reservations about equating the false feedback procedure with
genuine emotion. For one, it involves only the cognitive system, rather than the multiple system
activation that most writers agree define an emotion. Moreover, to accept the false feedback data
as indicative of emotion is to assume that the inference of an emotional state from a meter
reading is functionally equivalent to the experience of an emotion, an assumption that we are
unwilling to make. Both concerns lead us to question the relevance of the false feedback data to
the questions at hand.
Moreover, one recent line of research suggests that there may still be merit in the
deceleration perspective. The fear-then-relief model explicitly identifies the offset of fear as a
proximal cause of compliance. In a series of five experiments, Dolinski and Nawrat (1998)


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