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Fear Arousing

Fear Arousing

You turn on the TV and a commercial begins playing. The images of a burglar trying to break into a house flash on the screen as a deep, monotone voice narrates how threats to your home are all around you. The images shift to a picture of a home alarm system while the narrator tells how this product will prevent crime in your home. The commercial for this security system uses fear to motivate its audience to purchase its product. Using fear to persuade an audience is a common but controversial way to appeal to an audience. Keep on reading to learn more about the meaning of Fear Arousing, Effects, and more.

Fear Arousing Meaning

If something causes fear, it causes extreme distress and anxiety.

Fear arousing, also known as an appeal to fear, is the use of fear to persuade an audience.

With persuasion, you are attempting to change the audience's mind or behavior. You can persuade individuals using facts, values, or emotions. Fear arousing is a type of appeal to emotion, also known as pathos. Emotions are powerful since your audience can use their feelings to connect with your argument.

Fear is a strong emotion that comes from sensing a threat to one's safety. By instilling fear in an audience, a speaker or writer can convince them to act to prevent immediate danger.

Fear arousing is common in advertising and health campaigns. In their commercials, they scare their audience by describing the effects of drugs or not having a particular product that can prevent harm. Companies or governments attempt to influence individuals through fear.

Characteristics of Fear Arousing

To help you identify fear arousing in media, you should attempt to identify these characteristics.

Emphasis on Immediate Danger

Fear arousing highlights an immediate risk to your safety or well-being, even if the threat is not every day. For example, home invasions with an armed burglar are rare. However, commercials portray this type of crime by reenacting a scene of an armed burglar breaking into a family's home. These images show the immediate danger you could face in that situation.

Danger Rooted in a Common Fear

People tend to share fears, such as death or harm to personal safety. Individuals using fear appeals often link the immediate danger to one of these fears. The example commercial about a home security system plays on the common fear of having one's home invaded and having one's life threatened.

Stopping Danger by Taking Action

There is a stated or implied way to stop the immediate threat. Usually, the risk ends with individuals taking the advice given by a speaker or found in an advertisement or commercial. For example, commercials advertising home security systems will show a happy family safe in their home at the end after purchasing one. These images signal to the viewer that the immediate danger will end when they follow the given advice.

Fear Arousal, Outdoor home security system, StudySmarterFig. 1. Home security system companies emphasize immediate danger to convince people to buy their product.

Examples of Fear Arousing in Communication

Companies, public health campaigns, and politicians often use an appeal to fear in their communications. The examples below detail how they incorporate fear arousing and their use of the characteristics of appealing to fear.

Commercials

Commercials arouse fear in the audience to persuade them to buy their product. As seen in the introduction, a typical example is a company attempting to sell security software. They instill fear in the audience that someone may break into their house.

Another prominent example is selling emergency necklaces or bracelets for the elderly to notify emergency services in case of severe injury or illness. The commercials arouse fear by showing images of elderly adults lying on the ground in their homes, unable to get help. The immediate risk is the elderly's inability to get help, which plays into the common concerns of risks to personal safety and potential death.

The commercial recommends buying the product to eliminate this threat.

Health Campaigns

Public health campaigns are another example of how companies arouse fear in their audience. These campaigns attempt to deter dangerous behavior. For instance, smoking campaigns portray the devastating effects of smoking. Commercials will contain the impact of smoking tobacco, such as a blackened lung, side effects from surgery for cancer, and damaging throats or voice boxes.

These commercials and advertisements use people's fear of becoming seriously ill from smoking to convince them not to smoke. The immediate risk portrayed in these campaigns is the severe effects of smoking, and the fear evoked is the serious bodily harm potentially caused by smoking. The recommended action to prevent this harm is not smoking.

Fear arousal, Anti-smoking picture with man smoking cigarette while left side of face is skeleton, StudySmarterFig. 2. Images like this one are common in anti-smoking campaigns to make individuals fear smoking's effects.

Political Advertising

Political advertising also uses fear to persuade audiences to vote for a candidate or support a particular proposal. For example, a frequent attack politicians make against their opponents is that the other does not pursue strict punishment for criminals, also known as being "soft on crime."

TV commercials use imagery to support this argument. They show images or video clips of gangs and riots while the narrator highlights how this politician has not voted for a particular bill, increasing crime.

These advertisements use arousing fear by showing violent images to motivate their audience to vote for someone who does not support crime and lawlessness. The immediate danger shown in these advertisements is violent crime, which plays into the fear of one's personal security being at risk. The commercial suggests that the way to stop this threat is by voting for the correct politician.

Connection Between Fear and Arousal

There is a reason why companies and politicians use arousing fear to persuade an audience. As mentioned, arousing fear is a type of emotional appeal. People react to their emotions, especially powerful ones like fear. It is an emotion that people experience when they perceive there is a threat to their safety. The perception of this threat causes individuals to act to preserve their safety.

Companies and politicians hope to persuade individuals to act in a way beneficial to them based on this response. Brain activity is the basis for this response. When an individual experiences fear and potential threats, the brain prompts them to act to preserve their safety.

This response is why this appeal is called "arousing fear." People have the instinct to act to prevent potential danger. If a company or politician can instill dread in their audience, they can persuade them to follow their recommended action to lessen the danger they are experiencing.

Effects of Arousing Fear

Researchers have debated the effects of using arousing fear in persuasion. While arousing fear may be helpful in specific situations, arousing fear can be a type of rhetorical fallacy—and unethical.

Arousing Fear as a Rhetorical Fallacy

Rhetorical fallacies are deceptive arguments that have faulty reasoning at their foundation. There is usually an unclear or bad connection between the evidence and the claim. For example, the following statement is an example of a rhetorical fallacy.

"The sky is blue because the oven is on."

However, the reasoning ("the oven is on") does not explain the main claim ("the sky is blue").

Arousing fear can be an example of a rhetorical fallacy based on emotion. This type of fallacy is called scare tactics.

Scare tactics describe the strategy of using fear to influence the audience's reaction.

However, there is often no logical reason for this fear.

When using scare tactics, the writer or speaker evokes fear in the audience by highlighting the most extreme situations that are unlikely to happen. Politicians often use scare tactics in their advertising to arouse fear. Political advertising will show extreme conditions unlikely to occur, such as violent crime overtaking an entire city. By instilling fear in the audience by showing these unlikely situations, politicians hope to persuade people to vote for them.

Political advertisements are frequently biased but persuasive. Watch out!

The effect of arousing fear based on scare tactics can have negative consequences. After the Japanese government bombed Pearl Harbor in World War II, journalists and politicians promoted the idea that the United States needed to surveil Japanese-Americans in case they were loyal to the Japanese government. This advocacy led to the internment of Japanese-Americans in camps in the United States.

This history demonstrates the harmful effects of scare tactics. There was no proof that Japanese-Americans had widespread support for the Japanese government and its actions. However, by using scare tactics and the imagined threat that these citizens would endanger the United States, individuals came to support the internment of their fellow citizens. Scare tactics turn individuals into scapegoats, negatively impacting their livelihoods.

Fear Arousal, Police car outside of crime scene, StudySmarterFig. 3. Politicians often use these images as scare tactics to convince voters to support them.

Analyzing Scare Tactics

When analyzing a persuasive text in fiction or nonfiction, you can analyze a text to determine if a character employs scare tactics. If someone appeals to fear, you will want to discover whether the fear is based on reality or fiction. If the appeal is not based on reality, along with supporting the character's agenda, they are using scare tactics.

For example, you can analyze how various characters appeal to fear in Arthur Miller's The Crucible (1953). In the play, set during the Salem witch trials, paranoia has taken over Salem as individuals suspect each other of becoming a witch in support of the Devil. Abigail Williams, caught by other villagers dancing naked in the forest with several other young women, falsely accuses others of witchcraft to not receive punishment and to seek revenge against her illicit lover and his wife, John and Elizabeth Proctor.

Twenty-five people were killed during the Salem witch trials. Nineteen were hanged at Proctor's Ledge.

Abigail's arguments use an appeal to fear to convince villagers to suspect their peers of witchcraft. For example, in a trial against John and Elizabeth, Judge Danforth suggests Abigail may not be truthful in her accusations. She attempts to convince the court she is correct by stating the Devil is influencing Salem.

ABIGAIL, in an open threat: Let you beware, Mr. Danforth. Think you to be so mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits? Beware of it!" (Act 3)

She then pretends that she is afraid when she sees an invisible bird, a sign of demonic influence, flying through the courtroom. Her act causes others in the courtroom to panic.

Abigail's speech and actions are an example of scare tactics. She influences the audience to support her and punish John and Elizabeth. She appeals to the villagers' fear that the Devil will possess and corrupt them. The villagers believe they can get rid of the threat by punishing Proctor and supporting her.

This fear is not based on reality. Abigail lies about who is a witch to gain status and for revenge. While not directly appealing to the play's audience, The Crucible shows how authors dramatize a character's use of scare tactics to influence and persuade other characters.

Ethical Uses of Arousing Fear

Rhetoricians and scholars often consider the use of arousing fear in persuasion unethical. Individuals, such as politicians or CEOs, arouse fear in the form of scare tactics for personal gain or profit. Further, these individuals are manipulating the audience to support their goals.

However, there are times when arousing fear is ethical. Arousing fear can be ethical if it deters dangerous behavior that puts a person or multiple people at risk of serious harm. Public health campaigns incorporate an appeal to fear in their advertising to prevent risky behavior. Anti-smoking campaigns are a prime example, as stated before. Because of the personal and societal risks of smoking, public health officials may opt to arouse fear to convince their audience not to smoke.

Arousing fear, Someone buckling a seatbelt, StudySmarterFig. 4. You should be scared not to buckle up.

Advertisements about wearing seatbelts are another example of ethical fear appeals. Research supports the idea that individuals should wear seatbelts to prevent severe injury or death if there is an accident. Arousing individuals' fear of this harm to encourage them to wear seatbelts is ethical because it prevents widespread injuries and death.

Fun Fact: In 1959, Nils Bohlin invented the three-point seatbelt for Volvo, which in turn made the design freely available to all car manufacturers. Talk about putting safety first!

Incorporating Ethical Uses of Arousing Fear

Depending on your essay, you could include ethical uses of an appeal to fear. Remember, you would only want to include it if your appeal deters dangerous behavior that can put people at risk of serious harm. You would need to address a topic about an action that presents a risk to individuals, and you would want to base your appeal on facts and evidence. Using an appeal to fear, you would want to show your audience what would happen if they did not stop this behavior.

For example, a suitable topic for arousing fear would be discouraging marijuana use in teenagers. This topic would be ethical since this appeal would attempt to stop behavior that can have severe impacts on teenagers' mental development.

Ethical persuasion is broadly an appeal to ethos: an appeal to ethics and competent authority.

To make your appeal, you would want to state that teenagers should avoid marijuana to prevent harm to their mental development. However, you would want to avoid illogical arguments based on unfounded information, such as the slippery slope argument that marijuana use inevitably leads to other drug use. Without hard evidence to back up your information, you should avoid using an argument to arouse fear.

Fear Arousing - Key Takeaways

  • Fear arousing, also known as an appeal to fear, is the use of fear to persuade an audience.
  • Fear arousing is a type of appeal to emotion, also known as pathos.
  • The characteristics of fear arousing include an emphasis on immediate danger, the danger rooted in a common fear, and a call to action to stop this danger.
  • Common examples of fear arousing include fear-based advertising, anti-smoking campaigns, and political advertising, highlighting the potential downfall of society if a candidate is elected.
  • Arousing fear can be a rhetorical fallacy called scare tactics. Scare tactics describe the strategy of using fear to influence the audience's reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fear Arousing

Fear arousal, also known as an appeal to fear, is the use of fear to persuade an audience.

Common examples of fear arousal include commercials and political advertising. Commercials arouse fear in the audience to persuade them to buy their product. The commercials for home security systems are a common example. They show violent images to scare viewers into purchasing a security system. Another example is political advertising. Often, these ads will show images of violent crime to emphasize how an opponent is not doing enough to keep their community safe. 

Yes, fear arousing is a kind of persuasion. Persuasion is the attempt to change the audience's mind or behavior. By arousing fear, you are attempting to change the audience's mind or behavior using fear. Fear arousal is a type of appeal to emotion, also known as pathos.

Fear arousal affects persuasion due to the strong emotion it evokes in the audience. Fear is a powerful emotion. By instilling fear in the audience, a speaker or writer can convince the audience to act.

Arguments that appeal to fear can be compelling but may be unethical or contain faulty reasoning. Fear arousal can be an example of a rhetorical fallacy based on emotion. This type of fallacy is called scare tactics. Scare tactics describe the strategy of using fear to influence the audience's reaction. When using scare tactics, the writer or speaker evokes fear in the audience by highlighting the most extreme situations that are unlikely to happen. Individuals may use this faulty use of fear arousal in the form of scare tactics they use for personal gain or profit.

Final Fear Arousing Quiz

Question

How is a slippery slope like a landslide?

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Answer

A slippery slope is when something innocuous leads into something more dire. The term is related to the idea of an avalanche or landslide, which may begin as a single shift higher on the slope but grows into a huge and dangerous collapse of the mountainside.

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Question

"A small time criminal will become a big-time criminal."

Is this a slippery slope argument?

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Answer

Without further evidence, yes. Think of it this way: Not all avalanches begin with pebbles, just because some avalanches begin that way. Likewise, not all small-time criminals become big-time criminals, just because some big-time criminals were once small-time. 

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Question

A slippery slope argument is what?

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Answer

All the above. 

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What is the main issue with a slippery slope argument?

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Answer

It turns a small issue into a big issue

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Question

What is an assertion?

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Answer

A strong claim of fact.

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Question

"Avoid assertions in argumentation."

True or false?

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Answer

False. 

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Question

What does it mean, that an argument should be substantiated?

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Answer

Substantiated, meaning supported by evidence.

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Question

Why should you not exaggerate in an argument?

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Answer

If your argument is an exaggeration or lie, it will be found out; and if someone is lying, it is easy for someone else to dismiss their argument, even the truer parts of it.

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Question

A slippery slope argument is unlikely to occur in your essay, if you always provide substantial evidence.


True or false?

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Answer

True.

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Question

How is context important when defining a slippery slope argument?

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Answer

Think about a mother asserting that her child will become a pyromaniac. This mother fails to contextualize her child's actions as the probable result of simply being a kid.

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Question

To avoid the slippery slope argument, understand the causes and effects in your topic. Why?

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Answer

If you understand why things start and end, you are less likely to create a fallacious line of cause and effect.

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Question

How could you get carried away with your argument, in terms of evidence and conclusion?

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Answer

You can start with one thing, and by the power of argumentation arrive at something different.

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Question

To avoid the slippery slope, make sure your _____ matches your _____.

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Answer

Evidence, conclusion.

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Question

What is "slippery slope" in Latin?

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Answer

It has no Latin equivalent. 

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Question

To which logical fallacy is the slippery slope similar?

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Answer

Scare tactics.

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What type of fallacy is the scare tactics fallacy?

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Answer

Informal logical fallacy.

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Question

Scare tactics use fear without _____ to influence someone’s conclusion.

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Answer

Evidence

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What do scare tactics appeal to?

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Answer

Fear.

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Question

The possibility that you risk injury and death by not undertaking some action is a persuasive reason to undertake said action.


Why is this persuasive, and why is it not based on the evidence?


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Answer

This is persuasive because you fear that the possibility of injury is true, not because the possibility of injury is true based on evidence.


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Question

Scare tactics don't use evidence and make you afraid. Evidence-based logic uses evidence and can't make you afraid.

True or false?

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Answer

False. 

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Question

Ignoring evidence, a scare tactician dares you not to believe their _____.


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Answer

Conclusion

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Scare tactics rarely present you with a wide selection of _____.


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Answer

Alternatives or choices. They tend to push a particular action while ignoring other choices.

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Why should you not buy into a scare tactic?

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Answer

Suppose someone cannot provide you with evidence, and you cannot find any evidence. In that case, there is (literally) no reason to believe that their dire conclusions will occur. 

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Question

Someone might use scare tactics because _____.

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Answer

Their claim is not true

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Question

Scare tactics work slowly, effectively.


True or false?

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Answer

False. 

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Question

People use scare tactics because fear is powerful."

True or false?

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Answer

True,

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Question

"Tawdry establishments, invading, total anarchy, violence, fear for the safety of your child, zeroing in, dangers to your doorstep, destruction of everything you hold dear."


What kind of language is this?

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Answer

The language of scare tactics. This language is an appeal to fear rather than an appeal to logic.

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In scare tactics, for what does a threat substitute?

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Answer

Evidence.

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Question

Instead of proving that something scary will happen, someone using the scare tactics fallacy _____ the dangers of something without verifying it.


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Answer

Assumes

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Question

Which of the following are things you can you do to avoid writing scare tactics?

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Answer

Don't make it "us" vs. "them."  

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Question

What is fear arousal?

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Answer

Fear arousal is the use of fear to persuade an audience.

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Question

Fear arousal is also known as ____. 

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Answer

Appeal to fear

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Question

Fear arousal is a type of emotional appeal, which is also called ___. 

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Answer

Pathos

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Question

A TV commercial for gold investment shows images of the stock market crashing and individuals looking concerned as they check their investments. The narrator encourages viewers to prevent a potential loss to their futures and wealth by investing in gold. 


What is the immediate danger presented in this commercial? 

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Answer

Potential stock market crash

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Question

A TV commercial for gold investment shows images of the stock market crashing and individuals looking concerned as they check their investments. The narrator encourages viewers to prevent a loss to their futures and wealth by investing in gold. 


What is the common fear presented in this commercial? 

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Answer

Risk to personal security

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Question

A TV commercial for gold investment shows images of the stock market crashing and individuals looking concerned as they check their investments. The narrator encourages viewers to prevent a loss to their futures and wealth by investing in gold. 


What is the solution presented in this commercial that will stop this threat? 

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Answer

Investing in gold

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Question

True or false: Fear arousal gets its name from the cognitive response individuals have to experiencing fear. Individuals want to try to act to prevent or stop the fear they experience. 


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Answer

True

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Question

What are scare tactics? 

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Answer

Scare tactics describe the strategy of using fear to influence the audience's reaction. Scare tactics are a rhetorical fallacy since there is often no logical reason for this fear.

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Question

True or false: Scare tactics often have positive effects since they can motivate individuals to address common problems and issues.  

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Answer

False

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Question

True or false: Fear arousal is ethical if based on truth and if appealing to fear can prevent widespread harm. 

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Answer

True

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Question

What is persuasion?


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Answer

Persuasion is the attempt to change an audience’s mind or behavior. 


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Question

Which of the following is not a primary characteristic of fear arousing in media? 


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Answer

Emphasis on immediate danger 


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What are rhetorical fallacies?


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Answer

Rhetorical fallacies are deceptive arguments that have fault reasoning at their foundation. 


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What is ethos?


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Answer

Ethos is an appeal to ethics and competent authority. 


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Question

True or false. Arguments that appeal to fear can be unethical. 


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Answer

True


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Question

Fear arousal is a type of appeal to emotion, also known as _


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Answer

Pathos


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Question

True or false. Only commercials use scare tactics. Politicians don’t use them because that would be unethical. 


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Answer

False. Political advertising often uses fear to persuade audiences to vote for a candidate or support a particular proposal. 


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Question

If someone appeals to fear, you will want to discover whether the fear is based on _ or _. 


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Answer

reality or fiction

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Question

Illogical arguments based on unfounded information include


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Answer

Slippery slope arguments 


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Question

In WWII US journalist promoted the idea that the government had to surveil Japanese-Americans in case they were loyal to Japan. What characteristics of fear arousing are present in this case?


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Answer

-Danger rooted in a common fear

-Stopping danger by taking action 


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