Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 11, April 2006

Carel Jansen, Jos van Baal & Eefje Bouwmans

Investigating culturally-oriented fear appeals in public information documents on HIV/AIDS


Two public information texts including different fear appeals aimed at AIDS prevention were evaluated by participants from three countries: 147 participants came from the Netherlands, 109 from Spain and 179 from South Africa (varying ethnical backgrounds). The results of the experiment suggest that HIV/AIDS communication that emphasizes the severity of the disease and the vulnerability of the target audience can be successful, provided that the members of the target audience feel confident enough about their own capabilities to adopt self-protective behavior. As for possible interaction effects of fear appeals and cultural orientation, the outcomes of a similar experiment reported in Murray-Johnson et al. (2001) could not be replicated. None of the predicted effects occurred. An explanation may partly be found in problems concerning frequently used measurement instruments for cultural orientation.

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