Cyber security fear appeals: unexpectedly complicated

Karen Renaud*, Marc Dupuis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

11 Citations (Scopus)
570 Downloads (Pure)


Cyber security researchers are starting to experiment with fear appeals, with a wide variety of designs and reported efficaciousness. This makes it hard to derive recommendations for designing and deploying these interventions. We thus reviewed the wider fear appeal literature to arrive at a set of guidelines to assist cyber security researchers. Our review revealed a degree of dissent about whether or not fear appeals are indeed helpful and advisable. Our review also revealed a wide range of fear appeal experimental designs, in both cyber and other domains, which confirms the need for some standardized guidelines to inform practice in this respect. We propose a protocol for carrying out fear appeal experiments, and we review a sample of cyber security fear appeal studies, via this lens, to provide a snapshot of the current state of play. We hope the proposed experimental protocol will prove helpful to those who wish to engage in future cyber security fear appeal research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNSPW '19
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the New Security Paradigms Workshop
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781450376471
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2020
EventNew Security Paradigm Workshop - San Carlos, Costa Rica
Duration: 23 Sep 201926 Sep 2019


ConferenceNew Security Paradigm Workshop
Abbreviated titleNSPW 2019
Country/TerritoryCosta Rica
CitySan Carlos


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