This is Your Brain on Law School: The Impact of Fear-Based Narratives on Law Students

34 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2014 Last revised: 23 May 2017

See all articles by Abigail Patthoff

Abigail Patthoff

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law

Date Written: August 29, 2014

Abstract

Law students regularly top the charts as among the most dissatisfied, demoralized, and depressed of graduate student populations. As their teachers, law professors cannot ignore the palpable presence of this stress in our classrooms – unchecked, it stifles learning, encourages counterproductive behavior, and promotes illness. Yet, in the name of persuasion, professors frequently, and perhaps unwittingly, introduce additional fear into the classroom as a pedagogical tool via a common fear-based narrative: the cautionary tale. By taking lessons from existing social science research about “fear appeals” – scare tactics designed to frighten the listener into adopting a particular behavior – this article suggests that we can actively manage one source of law student anxiety by more thoughtfully using cautionary tales.

Keywords: legal writing, legal education, law teaching, law school, fear, fear appeals, stress, anxiety, cautionary tale, EPPM, Extended Parallel Process Model

Suggested Citation

Patthoff, Abigail, This is Your Brain on Law School: The Impact of Fear-Based Narratives on Law Students (August 29, 2014). 2015 Utah L. Rev. 391; Chapman University, Fowler Law Research Paper No. 14-10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2489134

Abigail Patthoff (Contact Author)

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States

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