Depression's response to fear tactics: An integration of health promotion principles, eye-tracking technology and clinical tools. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: The main objective of this study was to utilize eye-tracking technology and self-report measures to test the effectiveness of varying strengths of fear appeals when educating about the seriousness of depression and motivate depressed individuals to engage in health-information-seeking. METHODS: We analyzed data from 117 university employees affected by a range of depression symptoms who were randomly assigned to a low-threat, moderate threat, and high-threat message condition in a lab-based experimental setting. Attention patterns were captured while participants viewed the health message. A particular emphasis was placed on understanding the role of valence and arousal in determining attention patterns. RESULTS: Attentional processes induced emotions (valence) and intensity (arousal) and differed by strength of fear appeal, but were not influenced by symptoms of depression in this study. Arousal mediated the effects of strong fear appeals on attitudes toward information-seeking, whereas negative emotions did not. CONCLUSION AND PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Until further research suggests otherwise, caution is warranted when utilizing fear appeals that are highly arousing for health education and promotion.

published proceedings

  • Patient Educ Couns

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Lueck, J. A., Brannon, G. E., Silva, T., & Stephenson, M. T.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Lueck, Jennifer A||Brannon, Grace Ellen||Silva, Thiago||Stephenson, Michael T

publication date

  • January 2019