The dynamic interplay of hope vs fear appeals in a referendum context


This article makes a contribution by articulating, for the first time, how hope and fear appeals were constructed as a rhetorical media device in a political advertising campaign context, specifically the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. Based on a qualitative content analysis of both sides’ campaigning materials, an understanding of the fluid, responsive and symbiotic nature of these emotional appeals and how they are utilized against the other is outlined. The research reveals core dimensions for constructing persuasive media appeals. While, fear appeals should strive to create a threat perceived to be relevant, and significant, the deployed hope appeals should focus on generating alternative positive visions and be goal congruent. By understanding contested (political) campaigns, new types of hybrid hope and fears appeal emerge (i.e. hope and fear reduction appeals). Taking these findings together, allows the authors to provide prescriptions on how certain message appeal types might be used to induce particular emotional effects in the audience.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.


hope appeals, fear appeals, referendum advertising, political communications, Scottish Independence referendum


Black, I., Baines, P., Baines, N., O’Shaughnessy, N. and Mortimore, R. (2021) The dynamic interplay of hope vs fear media appeals in a referendum context. Journal of Political Marketing, In Press.


Research Institute

Institute for Applied Economics and Social Value (IAESV)