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17 Media-Related Fear

Short-Term And Enduring Consequences

5. Media Effects/Media Psychology

2. Evidence of Effects

4. On Personal Health and Social Well-Being

  1. Cynthia A. Hoffner,
  2. Elizabeth L. Cohen

Published Online: 28 DEC 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444361506.wbiems122

The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies

The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies

How to Cite

Hoffner, C. A. and Cohen, E. L. 2012. Media-Related Fear. The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies. 5:2:17.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 DEC 2012


Fear responses to media exert a powerful influence over people's perceptions, expectations, and behavior. Grounded in emotion theory, this chapter provides a framework for understanding fear responses to mediated threats in three areas of media scholarship: immediate responses to media, risk perceptions, and intergroup relations. First, the chapter examines why and how mediated messages evoke fear, and the consequences of fear during and after media use. Second, theory and research on the relationship between media-induced fear and risk perceptions are reviewed. Third, media-related fear is examined in the context of social relations, focusing on (1) how framing various groups as threats can lead to fear, stereotyping, and behavioral responses, and (2) how groups portrayed as threats respond when anticipating media influence on others. Finally, limitations of the literature and suggestions for future research (including the role of new technologies) are discussed.


  • Fear responses;
  • Threat;
  • Media psychology;
  • Emotion regulation;
  • Risk perceptions;
  • Intergroup relation