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Journal: Health Psychology Research


Threat appeal campaigns have been widely used to induce people to change their bad smoking habits by adopting a better approach in favor of a healthier lifestyle. Social marketers who create this kind of messages tend to believe in the persuasive power of fear arousal. For most people, fear has an important consequence on behavior, leading them to search for means of deleting or coping with the unhealthy behavior. As demonstrated by the Ordered Protection Motivation Model, individual differences such as health resistance play an important role in determining, or not, a change of behavior when faced with the threat. This study explores the relationship between health resistance and attitude towards smoking behavior and examines the mediating impact of coping response and smoke damage perception in a sample of 260 university students, smokers and non-smokers. Results highlight that health resistance has an important direct effect on smoking attitude, but, it seems to be mitigated by the smoke severity of the damage shown in graphic images. The comparison between smokers and nonsmokers allowed us to understand the role of reactance in these two groups, and the significance that anti-smoking campaigns assume. Our results offer important suggestions for future decisions about social threat appeals campaigns.