Health Communication| “Don’t Make My Mistake”: On the Processing of Narrative Fear Appeals
In this study, we examined the mechanism underlying the processing of narrative fear appeals. Participants (N = 564) read a story about a protagonist dealing with the consequences of cancer (Study 1: testicular cancer; Study 2: breast cancer; Study 3: skin cancer). Path analysis revealed that (1) attitude and behavioral intention toward performing self-exams were directly and positively associated with a form of transportation we identified as attention-focused transportation; (2) this form of transportation was positively associated with four emotions (fear, sadness, surprise, and compassion), whereas identification positively correlated with only one emotion (compassion); and (3) only the emotion of fear was a predictor of intention to perform self-exams. Taken together, these findings suggest that attention-focused transportation is a very important factor in the processing of narrative fear appeals, and that it can even, under some circumstances, replace the persuasive power of fear.