Scare Tactics

Guest blogger Becky Ham of the Center for the Advancement of Health, writes:

A new study from the British Economic and Social Research Council and reported today in the Washington Post finds that fear and guilt are actually poor motivators when it comes to getting people to change unhealthy habits.

The idea seems to be that fear and guilt may do nothing more than produce more fear and guilt —and, worse, defeatism. A far more effective approach, the researchers say, is to give people concrete suggestions on how to change their behavior and confidence that they can do things like quit smoking or start a daily exercise program.

Could be an important message to remember as we approach a particularly scary month ahead. Forget the ghosts and goblins of Halloween — we’re talking about election season. Fear has been in the news a lot lately — who to fear, what to fear, who can best protect us from our fears.

Politicians, take note: if fear can’t make us throw away our cigarettes, it might not be the best way to push us to the ballot box either.

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