Date of Award

Spring 4-28-2023

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Communication and Digital Studies

Department Chair or Program Director

Rao, Anand

First Advisor

Anand Rao

Major or Concentration

Communication and Digital Studies


In 2021, I conducted participant observation research on the Herman Cain Award subreddit, examining the effectiveness of fear appeals on social media. In that research, I determined that fear appeals on social media platforms are just as effective as when used on mass media platforms. The research also showed that the fear appeals in the subreddit worked to appeal to the unvaccinated users’ fear of online ridicule rather than a fear of bodily harm. I found this finding interesting and worked to expand my research, now two years later, by further investigating the platform using Protection Motivation Theory, a health behavior theory I identified during my initial research. In my current research, I use this theory to analyze the forum's Immunized to Prevent (IPA) section and the effects of fear of online ridicule in health communication.