Appeal to fear


“Without increased funding for the police force, soon it won’t be safe to walk our streets at night.”

Effect on reader

An appeal to fear attempts to make the reader feel that they, or other individuals, are at risk from a threat identified by the writer. In turn, this fear can be a powerful motivating force in changing their opinion or behaviour.

Appeals to fear are often combined with other appeals, such as an appeal to nationalism on issues such as asylum seekers, or appeal to family values in relation to debates such as same-sex marriage.

An appeal to fear can be particularly effective when combined with a discussion of a vulnerable group, who tend to elicit sympathy and a desire to protect from the reader.