Why using fear to promote COVID-19 vaccination and mask wearing could backfire

Images of death have been used as a scare tactic in public health campaigns for years. Buda Mendes/Getty Images You probably still remember public service ads that scared you: The cigarette smoker with throat cancer. The victims of a drunk driver. The guy who neglected his cholesterol lying in a morgue with a toe tag. With new, highly transmissible variants of SARS-CoV-2 now spreading, some health professionals have started calling for the use of similar fear-based strategies to persuade people to follow social distancing rules and get vaccinated. There is compelling evidence that fear can cha…

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