This research aims at examining the usage of fear appeal in public service announcements (PSAs) of different topics across different countries. The study uses a purposive sample of audio/visual advertisements that tackles a variety of social, health and safety topics across different cultures either in English or Arabic languages or with subtitles. The study is intended to compare the usage of fear appeal in PSAs that are targeted for social change across different cultures in terms of content and methods used to scare audiences. A non-probability purposive sample has been obtained through extensive search online that resulted in a non-even number of PSAs from each country. A sample of 72 PSAs has been collected, including 17 different PSAs tackling issues from UK, 20 from USA, 6 from Canada, 4 from France and 5 from Ireland, Australia and Egypt have 3 different PSAs each, 2 PSAs from Switzerland and South Africa each, 4 from Saudi Arabia and Spain, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Scotland are represented with 1 PSA in the sample. Through analysing these PSAs, the research has concluded that some of the main variables are similar across all countries and topics: the how these PSAs use negative framing in conveying the message, the high levels of depicted severity in the PSAs and the portrayal of harm affecting oneself. Other variables, such as: narrations of the PSAs, being part of a campaign, tone of voice, how the fear is portrayed, and levels of susceptibility are somehow similar with minor differences and majorities portraying the same results. The place where the PSA is taking place, the number of actors depicted in the PSAs, gender of those actors, and the suggested behaviours are variables that differ across the PSAs.


Journalism & Mass Communication Department

Degree Name

MA in Journalism & Mass Communication

Graduation Date


Submission Date

June 2017

First Advisor

Hamdy, Naila

Committee Member 1

Dawoud, Aliaa

Committee Member 2

Allam, Rasha


125 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item