Data from: Applying fear appeal to explain message framing in climate change communication: When are loss frames more effective?

Published: 16 November 2019| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/8hmh5p6p3d.2


This study investigated how goal frames (gain, non-loss, loss) either with or without efficacy statements affect climate change policy support. Addressing the framing literature’s difficulty establishing a guiding theory with consistent findings, we (1) propose fear appeal theory as an alternative framework to guide goal-framing research; (2) test five fear appeal variables (fear, perceived threat, hope, perceived efficacy, and message processing) as mediators of goal-framing effects on policy support; and (3) highlight four common goal-framing confounds that may partly underlie the literature’s inconsistent findings. Aligning with fear appeal theory, results from a carefully controlled experiment (N = 900) revealed that a more threatening loss frame paired with an efficacy statement produced stronger pro-policy attitudes and greater willingness-to-pay by successfully balancing fear/threat with hope/efficacy and by producing deeper message processing.



Communication, Environmental Policy, Environmental Psychology, Fear, Climate Change, Communication Psychology, Pro-Environmental Behavior