Cyber security fear appeals: unexpectedly complicated

Karen Renaud, Marc Dupuis

Research output: Contribution to conferenceProceedingpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Cyber security researchers are starting to experiment with fear appeals, with a wide variety of designs and reported efficaciousness. This makes it hard to derive recommendations for designing and deploying these interventions. We thus reviewed the wider fear appeal literature to arrive at a set of guidelines to assist cyber security researchers. Our review revealed a degree of dissent about whether or not fear appeals are indeed helpful and advisable. Our review also revealed a wide range of fear appeal experimental designs, in both cyber and other domains, which confirms the need for some standardized guidelines to inform practice in this respect. We propose a protocol for carrying out fear appeal experiments, and we review a sample of cyber security fear appeal studies, via this lens, to provide a snapshot of the current state of play. We hope the proposed experimental protocol will prove helpful to those who wish to engage in future cyber security fear appeal research.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2020
EventNSPW '19: New Security Paradigms Workshop - San Carlos, Costa Rica
Duration: 23 Sept 201926 Sept 2019


WorkshopNSPW '19
Country/TerritoryCosta Rica
CitySan Carlos


  • cyber security
  • applied computing
  • security and privacy
  • social aspects of security and privacy


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