The appraisal of fear appeals as threatening or challenging: Frequency of use, academic self-efficacy and subjective value

David Putwain, Richard Remedios, Wendy Symes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Fear appeals are messages that focus on avoiding the negative consequences of failure. They are often used by teachers as a motivational tactic prior to high-stakes examinations. In this study, we examined whether 566 secondary school students, from 26 different classes, approaching high-stakes examinations appraised fear appeals as threatening or challenging. Multilevel regression analyses showed that an increased frequency of student-reported (but not teacher-reported) fear appeals were experienced as a threat, when focused on avoiding negative consequences and as a challenge, when focused on the timing of forthcoming examinations. Threat experience was associated with lower student-reported academic self-efficacy, higher attainment value and higher extrinsic value. Challenge experience was associated with higher student-reported attainment value and higher extrinsic value. Results show that students differ in the way that they experience fear appeals. Fear appeals should be conveyed with caution, especially if students have low academic self-efficacy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1670-1690
    Number of pages20
    JournalEducational Psychology
    Volume36
    Issue number9
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2014

    Keywords

    • fear appeals
    • academic self-efficacy
    • subjective value
    • classroom environment

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