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Abstract

The proposed conceptual framework further advance our theoretical understanding of consumer cognitive, emotional and behavioral processes associated with fear/challenge message appeals in a social marketing context. We integrate disparate areas of knowledge from the fields of psychology and personality research and examine moderating effects of individual differences such as experiential avoidance, distress tolerance, and identity styles on information processing and behavior when exposed to a combined fear/challenge appeal. The proposed theoretical framework combines an information processing construct with a revised protection motivation model, to more explicitly reveal how cognitive processing affects persuasion of fear/challenge appeals. The conceptual framework also tests the mediating effects of response efficacy and self-accountability on depth of information processing and attitude change. Understanding the intricate details of information processing should enable social marketers to tailor messages to specific psychological profiles of customers in order to alter their behavior.
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There is a puzzling bifurcation in the scientific literatures concerned with psychological stress, coping, and emotion. Robust, but largely separate, literatures have developed to focus on appraisal, stress, coping, and adaptation, on the one hand, and on appraisal and emotion, on the other. Although the topics touched upon in these literatures are highly overlapping, the two literatures appear to have developed largely independently, and cross-references between them are rare. In our own work, we have contributed to the literatures on both emotion and psychological stress and coping. However, we have long subscribed to the type of unified theoretical framework that Lazarus envisioned, and we believe that such a framework provides a much more powerful perspective for studying issues of adaptation than the two seemingly separate literatures that currently exist. In the present chapter we make the case for adopting a unified theoretical framework concerned with appraisal, emotion, coping, and adaptation. After providing an overview of psychological stress and coping theory, we consider the appraisal theory approach to studying emotion. We discuss some of the basic theoretical assumptions underlying this approach, and then describe a set of specific appraisal models of emotion that we have helped develop and test. In doing so, we illustrate how the development of these emotion models has been heavily dependent upon stress and coping theory. We then consider how current stress and coping theory might be informed by the advances we have described within emotion theory, and conclude by briefly considering some of the key benefits we believe a unified theoretical perspective has to offer the study both of emotion and of coping and adaptation.
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We have attempted four main tasks in this chapter. First, a systematic overview is given of the cognitive–phenomenological theory of emotions put forth by Lazarus and his colleagues. The concepts of cognitive appraisal, coping, and several key principles in the theory, including transaction and flux, are reviewed. Second, we offer a working definition of emotion which also serves to summarize the main tenets of the theoretical point of view. Third, we draw upon this point of view to deal with a number of phylogenetic issues concerning the nature of emotion in humans and infra-humans. Finally, we attempt to redress the traditional imbalance of thought in which positively toned emotions have been neglected in favor of the negative. We systematically examine some of the conceptual issues that have made it difficult to integrate positively toned emotions into emotion theory. In this discussion, emphasis is placed on the functions of physiological changes in positively toned emotions and on the ways that positively toned emotions affect coping. Throughout, our view has been that the neglect of positively toned emotions in emotion theory has obscured their importance in human adaptation and in psychological growth and change.
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