The Effect of Moral and Fear Appeals on Park Visitors' Beliefs about Feeding Wildlife.

  • Hockett K
  • Hall T
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This study tested the effectiveness of two written messages compared to a control condition in changing campers' beliefs about feeding deer at Shenandoah National Park. Drawing on the Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion, both interventions were designed to promote central route processing. One used research on hazard warnings to present a fear appeal message highlighting risks to visitors, while the other used norm activation theory to develop a moral appeal that focused on impacts to deer. Questionnaires (control n =111, moral appeal n = 115, fear appeal n = 116) assessed level of agreement with belief statements taken from the appeals as well as related statements that would indicate whether message elaboration occurred. The fear appeal increased agreement that deer could cause physical harm to people and appeared to cause elaboration on these messages, but the moral appeal did not strengthen previously held beliefs that feeding harmed the deer. Both appeals reduced self-reported frequencies of deer feeding. Women agreed more strongly with some of the moral appeal statements in all conditions, but the interventions affected men and women equally. Results suggest that fear appeals may be an effective technique for changing beliefs about feeding wildlife. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Author-supplied keywords

  • ANIMAL feeding
  • DEER
  • ELABORATION likelihood model
  • RISK communication
  • deer
  • elaboration likelihood model
  • empathy
  • interpretation
  • norm activation
  • risk communication

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  • Karen S Hockett

  • Troy E Hall

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