Thoughts Behind Shock Tactics

Many organisations and groups try to persuade young people to use the roads safely, by using threat and shock tactics to focus on the disastrous consequences of risky behaviours. Such approaches contain graphic depictions of potential negative consequences of risky behaviours, and they attempt to arouse fear or anxiety and expect a change in behaviour.

An assumption is that young people’s attitudes and behaviour can be manipulated or changed simply by exposing them to messages and gruesome images. However, research indicates that messages that are intended to arouse a high level of fear or anxiety are unlikely to actually do so, because often the intended threat does not result in the arousal of a fear response.