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Fear appeals threatening the individual have been shown to be powerful persuasive devices in the cultures where they have been studied. However, most fear appeal research has been conducted with members of individualist cultures. Individualist cultures place self-needs above group concerns, while collectivist cultures place group needs above self-concerns. Little is known about the effectiveness of fear appeals (or other persuasive strategies) in collectivist cultures. Two studies assessed the effectiveness of AIDS-prevention fear appeals threatening the self versus fear appeals threatening the group (i.e., family) on members of individualist and collectivist cultures. The first study focuses on African American and Mexican immigrant junior high school youth. The second study focuses on U.S. and Taiwanese college undergraduates. The results indicated that fear appeals should address cultural orientation (i.e., individualist versus collectivist orientation) to achieve maximum effectiveness. The results also indicate that one cannot assume cultural orientation based on ethnicity.
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