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This manuscript reports three experiments investigating the impact of television programming context on the processing of a fear-appeal message. This is done using a dual-motivation system theory conceptualizing emotion as arising from activation of the appetitive and/or aversive motivational systems. Results show that, as predicted, sad programming activates viewers' aversive motivational systems, whereas comedic programming activates their appetitive motivational systems. Furthermore, by activating these systems through programming context, we were able to predict both retrospective self-report and real-time physiological reactions to a persuasive message employing a fear-appeal strategy. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, as are suggestions for future experiments using the dual-motivation approach.


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© Taylor & Francis. Final version published as: Potter, R. F., LaTour, M. S., Braun-LaTour, K. A., & Reichert, T. (2006). The impact of program context on motivational system activation and subsequent effects on processing a fear appeal. Journal of Advertising, 35(3), 67-80. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.