Social threat appeals in commercial advertising: The moderating impact of perceived level of self-efficacy and self-esteem on advertising effectiveness

Publication Date: Saturday 1 August 2015
Author(s): Cauberghe, V.; Faseur, T. & Hudders, L.
Appeared in: Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, vol.: 40, issue: 2, 171-183


This study investigates the impact of the level of fear evoked by an advertisement (for deodorant) framing a threatening social situation. Where the effectiveness of threat appeals has been investigated extensively in health communication, this study focuses on the impact of social threat appeals in a commercial setting. The study investigates the moderating impact of self-esteem on the interaction effect between the level of fear (evoked by a social threat ad) and perceived level of self-efficacy on brand attitude and purchase intention. Results show that for high self-esteem individuals, fear evoked by a social threat is effective, only when perceived self-efficacy is increased (in line with the EPPM). However, for low self-esteem individuals, high versus low perceived self-efficacy does not influence brand attitudes and purchase intentions in case of a social threat appeal, but perceived self-efficacy does increase the effectiveness of appeals in which a positive social situation is shown.

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