Cynthia A. Hoffner and Elizabeth L. Cohen
Fear responses to media exert a powerful influence over people's perceptions, expectations, and behavior. Grounded in emotion theory, this chapter provides a framework for understanding fear responses to mediated threats in three areas of media scholarship: immediate responses to media, risk perceptions, and intergroup relations. First, the chapter examines why and how mediated messages evoke fear, and the consequences of fear during and after media use. Second, theory and research on the relationship between media-induced fear and risk perceptions are reviewed. Third, media-related fear is examined in the context of social relations, focusing on (1) how framing various groups as threats can lead to fear, stereotyping, and behavioral responses, and (2) how groups portrayed as threats respond when anticipating media influence on others. Finally, limitations of the literature and suggestions for future research (including the role of new technologies) are discussed.
Threats and danger are familiar features in the media landscape, and fear and anxiety are common emotional responses to these depictions. Several recent reviews have addressed responses to frightening media, most with a focus on children (e.g., Cantor, 2009). This chapter addresses fear in relation to media from a broader perspective by examining not only immediate ...