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PSYC 3007- Discussion 5: Guilt or Fear appeal

Aug 1, 2023

Discussion: Guilt or Fear Appeal

Bring to mind pictures of sad puppy eyes and scrawny cats in dirty cages. Or think of images of impoverished children and messages about how a small gift can make a huge difference in their lives. Or recall public service announcements that feature frightening images of the effects of drug use and smoking. Consider how these and similar types of appeals use guilt or fear to try to persuade you to take action.

What are the ethical issues around using persuasive techniques that are intended to make recipients feel uncomfortable but for beneficial reasons? That is one of the issues you will explore this week through this Discussion. You will respond to a scenario in which you, as a professional in the line of work you currently do or would like to do, are tasked with designing a strong message using either the guilt or the fear appeal. As you create your messages, consider the relationship between the outcome you hope to achieve and the ethics of how you choose to get there.

To prepare:

  • Review Chapters 11 and 13 in the textbook.
  • Develop the scenario by incorporating the following details. You may make up these details or base them on your workplace experiences. Include:
  • Name and type of agency or organization
  • Its purpose or mission
  • Purpose of the message you are creating and what issue(s) it aims to address
  • Target audience for the message
  • Consider whether the fear or guilt appeal will be more effective for the target audience and to achieve the message goals.
  • Create the text of the message, to include in your Discussion post.
  • Check your message for ethical compliance using the code of ethics associated with the type of professional organization you chose.

Discussion 5 – guilt or fear appeal

The agency I would like to select for my work against racial discrimination in the school would be a non –governmental organization or an NGO named “Humanity”.

With this objective in mind, I would create an anti-racial discrimination campaign with a few volunteers to spread the message that we all are humans and belong to only one race which is “humanity”.

The purpose of selecting this goal is to protect black children from being bullied in schools and also to counsel them to overcome their fear and recover their lost self-esteem. Not only that, but our organization would also take the initiative to educate and spread awareness to the people who make black children victims in order to discriminate, and disrespect them.

The approach I would like to adopt to spread awareness against racial discrimination through fear and guilt is guilt. Fear is an emotion developed as a consequence of threat, insecurities, pain, and harm whereas guilt is a feeling associated with doing something wrong, offensive, and especially against moral ethics. Therefore guilt will be an easier tool to access and to reduce discrimination.

According to the Equality Act 2010, one person should not be biased or discriminated against by means of their skin color, nationality, citizenship, and also origin (English et al. 2020, p.25). For example, in an American school, a child from the origin of South Africa is not allowed to enter the church of the school due to their race, or they are not allowed in the school basketball group due to the difference in their skin color with the other peers.  This circumstance leads to a tremendous amount of depression, stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem in the mind of the child. As a counselor, my team would take the initiative to identify the children who have been discriminated against and would go through counseling to overcome their fear of being discriminated against by their race. On the other hand, most importantly we would focus more on the children who are responsible for this offensive act. The objective of my message would be to instill a sense of guilt in making emotional harm to others. I would explain and educate them that we all come under one umbrella of humanity and should be treated the same to make healthy relationships and create a positive school environment. 

In order to spread my message to a larger population, we would arrange an audio-visual PowerPoint slide presentation, in front of the school children. In my slide, I would highlight the picture of a victimized child and their emotional and mental breakdown after being discriminated against by their race. We would take the initiative to spread slogans like-

“We belong to the only one race that is humanity”.

“Spread your hand of love against racism”

“Black life is also valuable “

 Moral reinforcement would be there to stop this type of offensive action and to spread a hand of friendship, love, equity, and collaboration towards everyone despite the color of their skin. A workshop would be arranged where all the children will participate collaboratively to make the bonding stronger and build a healthy relationship among themselves. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act stated that employees and all job applicants should not be discriminated against based on their race, sex, color, and nationality. In the case of my example, I would like to implement it early from the school days.  (Small & Pager, 2020, p.20).


English, D., Lambert, S. F., Tynes, B. M., Bowleg, L., Zea, M. C., & Howard, L. C. (2020). Daily multidimensional racial discrimination among Black US American adolescents. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology66, 101068.

Small, M. L., & Pager, D. (2020). Sociological perspectives on racial discrimination. Journal of Economic Perspectives34(2), 49-67.

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