Public responses to multiphased fear and pro-social emotional appeals from the South African government’s covid-19 health communication strategies

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.38140/com.v28i.7054

Keywords:

pro-social appeals; Fear appeals; South African COVID-19 message strategies; health crises, emotional appeals, audience emotional responses

Abstract

Globally, using emotional appeals as communication strategies to influence public behavioural change has been popular for containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows that the uptake of health messaging is often partly influenced by audience responses to emotional appeal strategies employed. This study assessed responses by South African audiences to COVID-19 emotional appeal messages. The Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM) was applied. A quantitative survey analysed responses of over 1000 participants. Results indicate that government officials used a tailored and mixed multi-phased communication strategy mirroring fear and pro-social appeal messages to the intensity of recurring multiple COVID-19 waves. The most recurring emotional responses by participants were concern, worry and sadness, conversely gloom and surprise. This study provides insight into effective, audienceresponsive messaging for longstanding health crises by health promotion organisations including governments.

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Author Biography

Karabo Sitto-Kaunda, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Department of Strategic Communication

Published

2023-09-30

Issue

Section

Articles