‘Feel good’ messages vs. Scare-tactics

In Neuro terms: Reward-Contingency Program. 

I commend the new government Quit Smoking campaign which is moving away from negative, scare-tactic messages to a more positive approach. We all remember the TV ads of the surgeon operating on the melanoma patient. The campaign’s new motto is ‘Every Cigarette You Don’t Smoke is Doing You Good’. Their website ads show a running list of health benefits that people can achieve if they stop smoking, while the new TV commercial adopts a compassionate approach that shows smokers they need to stop beating themselves up if they fail to quit by encouraging them to try again. Although research shows that negative messages elicit a stronger immediate arousal response, reward-contingency programs show us that punishment does not lead to lasting change. In contrast, positive messages may be slow to influence, but when they do change behaviour, the change is more enduring.


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