Extended parallel process model

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The extended parallel process model (EPPM) is a framework developed by Kim Witte which attempts to predict how individuals will react when confronted with fear inducing stimuli. It was first published in Communication Monographs, Volume 59, December 1992; Witte subsequently published an initial test of the model in a later article published in Communication Monographs Volume 61, June 1994.

EPPM is based on Leventhal's danger control/ fear control framework and on Roger's protection motivation theory.[1] It is commonly used in health communication campaigns when a message is attempting to persuade audience members to adopt a healthy behavior. In order for fear-based campaigns to be effective, they must induce a moderately-high level of fear and a higher level of self-efficacy and response efficacy. When the audience feels that there is a higher level of fear than efficacy, the message is ineffective.


Illustration of the Extended Parallel Process Model.

The EPPM model defines four key factors to predict the likely outcome of communications which involve a fear appeal:

  • Self-Efficacy – The perception the individual has that they are competent to perform the tasks needed to control the risk.
  • Response Efficacy – The perception the individual has that the action, if carried out, will successfully control the risk.
  • Susceptibility – The perception the individual has of how likely the threat is to impact them.
  • Severity – The perception the individual has of the magnitude of the threat.


Based on the inputs above, the EPPM model predicts three possible outcomes.

Danger control – When an individual perceives that the severity and susceptibility are high and also perceives that they are competent to take mitigating action then they are likely to act to control the danger.

Fear control – The model predicts that if an individual perceives their ability to control a risk as low, even if the severity and susceptibility is perceived as high, then they are likely to take steps to control their fear instead. This is maladaptive change, or counter-productive behaviour. Fear controlling behaviour may involve the use of cognitive defence mechanisms such as "It will happen to me sooner or later" in order to manage the state of anxiety.[clarification needed]

No Response – The severity or susceptibility of the danger was perceived as low.

See also[edit]

Original articles[edit]

  • Witte, K. (1992). Putting the fear back into fear appeals: The extended parallel process model. Communication Monographs, 59(4), 329–349.
  • Witte, K. (1994). Fear control and danger control: A test of the extended parallel process model. Communication Monographs, 61(2), 113–134.