Fear appeals in anti-smoking advertising: how important is self-efficacy?

Simon Manyiwa, Ross Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
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Fear appeals are frequently used in anti-smoking advertising. The
evidence on the effectiveness of fear appeals is mixed, and in some studies
strong fear appeals have been found to reinforce the undesirable behaviour.
Individual self-efficacy may play a role in moderating the effects of fear appeals.
In advertising contexts where the intention was to encourage socially desirable
behaviours, it has been shown that greater self-efficacy is associated with
a more positive response to fear appeals. Similarly, in such contexts, the
perceived ethicality of a fear-appeal advertisement appears to be positively
related to self-efficacy. The purpose of this article is to examine the relationship
between self-efficacy, perceived ethicality, and the impact of advertising on
behavioural intentions in a context where the aim is to discourage undesirable
behaviour, namely anti-smoking advertising. Questionnaire data were gathered
from 434 respondents in London, England. Respondents with higher reported
self-efficacy were found to have more favourable views of the ethicality of
fear-appeal advertising, more positive attitudes towards the advertising, and
stronger intentions to quit smoking. It is recommended that when using fear
appeals in advertising to discourage undesirable behaviour, advertisers should
incorporate messages designed to enhance self-efficacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1419-1437
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2012


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