Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Controlling organizational insiders’ security behaviors is an important management concern. Research presents fear appeals as a viable security control to promote protective security behaviors. To date, research has proven security-related fear appeals have to effectively control insiders’ security behaviors. However, from critically examining fear appeals, we find a different story. Specifically, we critically analyze security-related fear appeal research from two ontological positions: critical realism and critical constructivism. The critical realist analysis identifies several issues with existing fear appeal research, which particular research traditions may cause. We explicate these traditions and issues in the paper. The critical constructivist analysis draws on critical management studies of control and Foucault’s work to identify the identities, beliefs, and values that fear appeals promote and the ways in which fear appeals create discursive closures that limit the consideration and discussion of other positions. Based on the two analyses, we provide important directions for future fear appeal research.