Fear might motivate secure password choices in the short term, but at what cost?

Marc Dupuis, Karen Renaud, Anna Jennings

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

154 Downloads (Pure)


Fear has been used to convince people to behave securely in a variety of cyber security domains. In this study, we tested the use of fear appeals, with the threat appraisal and coping appraisal components separately and together, on password hygiene behaviors. Fear did indeed elicit the anticipated response - people had higher levels of behavioral intention to have better password hygiene. Unfortunately, we also detected a largely negative affective response to the appeals. Fear, as a short lived emotion, can indeed be effective in the short term and snapshot-like studies like the one reported here might lead us to conclude that fear is indeed indicated and efficacious.
Yet, it might well backfire in the long term, due to the negative affects that it triggers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Sept 2021
EventHawaii International Conference on System Sciences - Hawaii, United States
Duration: 4 Jan 20227 Jan 2022


ConferenceHawaii International Conference on System Sciences
Abbreviated titleHICSS
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • cyber security
  • password creation routines
  • secure passwords


Dive into the research topics of 'Fear might motivate secure password choices in the short term, but at what cost?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this