The dynamic interplay of hope vs fear appeals in a referendum context

Iain Black, Paul Baines, Ning Baines, Nicholas O’Shaughnessy, Roger Mortimore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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This article makes a contribution by articulating, for the first time, how hope and fear appeals were constructed as a rhetorical media device in a political advertising campaign context, specifically the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. Based on a qualitative content analysis of both sides’ campaigning materials, an understanding of the fluid, responsive and symbiotic nature of these emotional appeals and how they are utilized against the other is outlined. The research reveals core dimensions for constructing persuasive media appeals. While, fear appeals should strive to create a threat perceived to be relevant, and significant, the deployed hope appeals should focus on generating alternative positive visions and be goal congruent. By understanding contested (political) campaigns, new types of hybrid hope and fears appeal emerge (i.e. hope and fear reduction appeals). Taking these findings together, allows the authors to provide prescriptions on how certain message appeal types might be used to induce particular emotional effects in the audience.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Political Marketing
Early online date11 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Mar 2021


  • fear appeals
  • hope appeals
  • political communications
  • referendum advertising
  • Scottish independence referendum


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