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Does a Credible Source Also Need a Fearful Audience?

Authors

  • KANAYO UMEH

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    1. School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
      K. Umeh, School of Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK L3 3AF. E-mail: f.k.umeh@ljmu.ac.uk
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K. Umeh, School of Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK L3 3AF. E-mail: f.k.umeh@ljmu.ac.uk

Abstract

Does a credible source also need a fearful audience? Current evidence is ambiguous. This study assessed the persuasiveness of a message from a high/low credible source, with strong/weak fear content. Over 270 undergraduates provided attitudinal information before and after receiving a warning about breast cancer, incorporating the experimental manipulations. Attitudes improved after message exposure, irrespective of the fear appeal and source credibility. However, the strong fear appeal amplified message acceptance. There was no evidence of an interaction between source credibility and fear. However, aroused fear and perceived credibility reduced resistance. Neither fear nor source credibility affected persuasion after several months. Instead pre-message resistance played a critical role. These findings revisit old debates about the importance of peripheral cues in persuasion.

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