Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Pam Propsom

Second Advisor

Kevin Moore

Third Advisor

Jeffrey McCall


This thesis emphasizes the negative outcomes associated with misled fear. It begins by examining the evolutionary basis of human and animal fear, and then applies the fear learning process as well as evolutionarily innate fears to maladaptive cognitive and behavioral outcomes that manifest today. One example of such a maladaptive manifestation is a behavior based in racial prejudice, occurring from an act based in the evolutionary fear of an out-group. Finally, this paper presents how human fear is further misled and manipulated by the media--intentionally and unintentionally. Overall, the present argument is that humans must increase their conscious awareness of how fear processing systems function in order to resist problematic behavioral outcomes of misled fear. Particularly for media consumers, this knowledge combined with critical media literacy education will be useful in combating fear tactics utilized by the media.


Honor Scholar Thesis

Included in

Psychology Commons