Ministers throughout the ages have used some version of "believe this or you will go to Hell." I've sat in on sermons where the congregation is warned that Hell will be the worst of all fates - gnashing teeth, screaming, and the smell of burning flesh. I've seen 8 year olds listen to this message while their parents sit next to them. I've seen a young child scream in church, and then say it was because he is afraid of Hell. I've also been told I belong to the Devil, if I don't buy 100% into the central tenets of Christianity.
I have to say, if I belong to the Devil, the Devil must be misunderstood. I have yet to kill someone, or punt a puppy across the room, or torment babies, nor do I just go around calling people ugly at the mall. Maybe I belong to the Devil, but he hasn't bothered checking in with me yet?
We have all heard these threatening messages, but, does this, "believe or you will go to Hell" message actually promote Supernatural beliefs?
One area of research that addresses this question is threats' impact on health behavior. For instance, research has explored if reminding people that things like smoking, drinking alcohol, and tanning cause health risks, and even early death, leads people to make healthier decisions. Perhaps. "you will go to Hell if you don't do this" functions similarly to "your skin will look hideous if you don't do this" since it is a threat trying to promote some type of behavior/attitude change.