Extended Parallel Processing Model (EPPM)


People are highly motivated to make scary risks less scary. If they know how to reduce a risk, they take the appropriate steps. On the other hand, if there is nothing they can do to reduce the risk, they reduce their fear instead by distancing themselves from the risk emotionally or denying it. Consequently, health messages in the form of fear appeals that don’t explain how to reduce a risk can backfire.


Kim Witte

Seminal references

Witte, K. (1998) Fear as Motivation, Fear as Inhibition: Using the Extended Parallel Process Model to Explain Fear Appeal Successes and Failures (pp. 423-450) In: Handbook of communication and emotion: Research, theory, applications, and contexts. Peter A. Anderson & Laura K. Guerrero (eds.) Academic Press.

Causal constructs

Self-efficacy, Response efficacy, Risk susceptibility appraisal, Risk severity appraisal

Outcome constructs

Fear reduction, Risk reduction


Prati G, Pietrantoni L, Zani B. Influenza vaccination: The persuasiveness of messages among people aged 65 and older. Health Communication, 2012, 27(5); 413-420.

Kotowski MR, Smith SW, Johnstone PM, Pritt E. Using the extended parallel process model to create and evaluate the effectiveness of brochures to reduce the risk for noise-induced loss in college students. Noise Health, 2011, 13(53); 261-71.

Major advantages

Major Criticisms