Civics: Media and propaganda practice commentary

Libby Emmons:

The article addresses using fear as a means to control people, in the right doses: “A meta-analysis found that targeting fears can be useful in some situations, but not others: appealing to fear leads people to change their behaviour if they feel capable of dealing with the threat, but leads to defensive reactions when they feel helpless to act. The results suggest that strong fear appeals produce the greatest behaviour change only when people feel a sense of efficacy, whereas strong fear appeals with low-efficacy messages produce the greatest levels of defensive responses.”

Van Bavel deals with how to deal with “optimism bias” in a population, as well as risk perception, emotional responses, and how the “global pandemic may also create opportunities to reduce religious and ethnic prejudice.”

He wrote that “People’s behaviour is influenced by social norms,” but that “Changing behaviours by correcting such misperceptions can be achieved by public messages reinforcing positive (for example, health-promoting) norms.”

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