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Lewis

Fear Is a Weak Motivator

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Filed: Citizen (pnd) Country: Mexico
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Scaring people about the health risks of smoking and obesity or the environmental consequences of pollution is an ineffective way to change their behavior, according to a wide-ranging analysis of studies into what works -- and what does not -- in getting people to live healthier lives and treat the environment more responsibly.

Giving people the confidence that they can make such changes is far more effective, according to an analysis of hundreds of research studies involving 47 different kinds of behaviors. One key to success seems to lie in giving people tools -- breaking desirable lifestyle changes down to a series of methodical steps, setting goals and establishing ways to monitor results.

(...)

By contrast, the research noted, public interest messages that seek to induce fear, guilt or regret were ineffective.

The analysis was announced by the Economic and Social Research Council, a research organization largely funded by the British government, that studies social and economic questions of public importance.

(end quote)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...6092801466.html

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Filed: Country: Philippines
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Hey Lewis, it's good to see you post a topic!

Is presenting facts, invoking fear? Advertising agencies learned a long time ago how to manipulate the public and fear is one effective method. In fact, most advertising relies on tapping into our insecurities. It's subversive but it works. Political campaigns use the same methodology. Sometimes it backfires, but fear definitely motivates people to react to the benefit of those invoking the fear. Nazi propaganda was very effective in convincing the German people that Jews were to blame for all their problems.

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Vietnam
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The only problem is, it only works for so long before people begin to disregard the message. People do not like living in fear, and inundating them with it will eventually get the messenger ignored or ridiculed. Especially if the danger does not manifest itself in any meaningful or personal way. For example: "The surgeon general has determined that cigarette smoking is hazardous to your health." was printed on the sides of cigarette packs for years. People continued smoking and did not see the life-threatening effects until decades later when they were at retirement age. Coughing and choking could be relieved with asthma pills. Effect was that the dire warning became ignored since the danger did not manifest itself suddenly.


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I think the article was referring mainly to social and health related behaviors and how they are effectively changed. Fear obviously plays a role in manipulating all kinds of behaviors but that does not necessarily mean that fear is the prime motivator in changing behaviors, especially when it comes to health factors.

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I think the article was referring mainly to social and health related behaviors and how they are effectively changed. Fear obviously plays a role in manipulating all kinds of behaviors but that does not necessarily mean that fear is the prime motivator in changing behaviors, especially when it comes to health factors.

I'm curious to know why it's not effective when it comes to health. I'm not discounting it, my inkling is that fear in general causes people to react. Perhaps the attempt at invoking the fear is ineffective? In other words, people just aren't getting scared?

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Filed: Citizen (pnd) Country: Mexico
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I think the article was referring mainly to social and health related behaviors and how they are effectively changed. Fear obviously plays a role in manipulating all kinds of behaviors but that does not necessarily mean that fear is the prime motivator in changing behaviors, especially when it comes to health factors.

I'm curious to know why it's not effective when it comes to health. I'm not discounting it, my inkling is that fear in general causes people to react. Perhaps the attempt at invoking the fear is ineffective? In other words, people just aren't getting scared?

Possibly because behaviors that involve lifestyle changes can be quite difficult to change. (eating habits, fitness, smoking) Fear of dying of cancer or a heart attack is not enough to make some people stop smoking or gorging on pork rinds. People may need more effective and positive tools for change. Fear is great for shock tactics to get an initial response but what about long term behaviors? Maybe the prevalence of using fear as a motivational tool has made people numb.

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It's all about reality.

Allow me to explain, just saying you COULD get lung cancer or die from heart disease is not enough to moticate a smoker into quiting but I would imagine at least half would quit when they were diagonosed with either!

To put it more politically, on September 10, 2001 if GW mentioned that he was torturing people or wiretapping without warrants, we the American public would have been outraged but put it in context of what happened on 9/11/01 it is all of the sudden ok!

GW and the gang have fear as a motivator mastered! ;)


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Filed: Other Country: United Kingdom
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The only problem is, it only works for so long before people begin to disregard the message. People do not like living in fear, and inundating them with it will eventually get the messenger ignored or ridiculed. Especially if the danger does not manifest itself in any meaningful or personal way.

I wonder if that will manifest itself in the next presidential campaign...

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It's all about reality.

Allow me to explain, just saying you COULD get lung cancer or die from heart disease is not enough to moticate a smoker into quiting but I would imagine at least half would quit when they were diagonosed with either!

To put it more politically, on September 10, 2001 if GW mentioned that he was torturing people or wiretapping without warrants, we the American public would have been outraged but put it in context of what happened on 9/11/01 it is all of the sudden ok!

GW and the gang have fear as a motivator mastered! ;)

Exactly, in your example half would not quit smoking if they were diagnosed with cancer. Fear would not be enough to motivate a change. I have known smokers that have smoked on their deathbed. Who said anything about politics here? :whistle:

The original post was about a study on the effects of using fear to motivate changes in social and health behaviors.

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Filed: Other Country: United Kingdom
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It's all about reality.

Allow me to explain, just saying you COULD get lung cancer or die from heart disease is not enough to moticate a smoker into quiting but I would imagine at least half would quit when they were diagonosed with either!

To put it more politically, on September 10, 2001 if GW mentioned that he was torturing people or wiretapping without warrants, we the American public would have been outraged but put it in context of what happened on 9/11/01 it is all of the sudden ok!

GW and the gang have fear as a motivator mastered! ;)

Exactly, in your example half would not quit smoking if they were diagnosed with cancer. Fear would not be enough to motivate a change. I have known smokers that have smoked on their deathbed. Who said anything about politics here? :whistle:

The original post was about a study on the effects of using fear to motivate changes in social and health behaviors.

Same principle - playing on fear in the absence of actual tangible risk becomes less effective as time goes on.

Edited by erekose

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Vietnam
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The only problem is, it only works for so long before people begin to disregard the message. People do not like living in fear, and inundating them with it will eventually get the messenger ignored or ridiculed. Especially if the danger does not manifest itself in any meaningful or personal way.

I wonder if that will manifest itself in the next presidential campaign...

The effects are already being felt. More and more people are skeptical of anything having to do with terrorism, and this is mostly because the message is at a certain level of intensity while the events are far off and impersonal and only happen to 'someone else', for most people. The fear has to be justified on a personal level or eventually it goes away. We may see the effect of eroding fear manifest in about another month.

As far as the Presidential election is concerned, Bush will not be running again, and neither will Cheney from what we are told(pure speculation), so the Republican candidate will be a wild card as will be the Democratic candidate. War weariness may or may not play a role.

Edit: clarification of 'effects'

Edited by ieldanth

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Change your behavior?

You have to WANT to. Bottom line. All the 'messages' you see, hear and read are just blather until you WANT to change.

I don't think it takes a revelation like 'oh you have cancer' to bring about a change either. Sometimes one just has to finally be ready.

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I think the article was referring mainly to social and health related behaviors and how they are effectively changed. Fear obviously plays a role in manipulating all kinds of behaviors but that does not necessarily mean that fear is the prime motivator in changing behaviors, especially when it comes to health factors.
I'm curious to know why it's not effective when it comes to health. I'm not discounting it, my inkling is that fear in general causes people to react. Perhaps the attempt at invoking the fear is ineffective? In other words, people just aren't getting scared?

Oh, people are getting scared alright. I know I was for most of the time when I was smoking. My grandpa died of lung cancer and that's a memory that has always been in the back of my mind when I lit up. I lit up nonetheless for almost 20 years. Fact is, no matter how scared I was, I was also fcuking addicted to that stuff.

What did it for me? The prospect of becoming a father. I grew up amongst smokers and I always thought that I wouldn't want my baby to have that same experience. Hence, when Nani and I decided that it's time to get serious about our baby, I put out that last cigarette. Never even thought of lighting up again.

So, in my case, fear did nothing to stop me smoking. My baby did. :yes:

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Filed: Country: Philippines
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I think the article was referring mainly to social and health related behaviors and how they are effectively changed. Fear obviously plays a role in manipulating all kinds of behaviors but that does not necessarily mean that fear is the prime motivator in changing behaviors, especially when it comes to health factors.
I'm curious to know why it's not effective when it comes to health. I'm not discounting it, my inkling is that fear in general causes people to react. Perhaps the attempt at invoking the fear is ineffective? In other words, people just aren't getting scared?

Oh, people are getting scared alright. I know I was for most of the time when I was smoking. My grandpa died of lung cancer and that's a memory that has always been in the back of my mind when I lit up. I lit up nonetheless for almost 20 years. Fact is, no matter how scared I was, I was also fcuking addicted to that stuff.

What did it for me? The prospect of becoming a father. I grew up amongst smokers and I always thought that I wouldn't want my baby to have that same experience. Hence, when Nani and I decided that it's time to get serious about our baby, I put out that last cigarette. Never even thought of lighting up again.

So, in my case, fear did nothing to stop me smoking. My baby did. :yes:

:star: That's a good reason. My younger brother just had his first baby and he's smoked for about as long as you had...I know that he's struggled with it because it is so friggin addictive.

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