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
Date Written: August 29, 2014
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
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