Background Previous work has suggested that teachers of General Certificate of Secondary Education classes may use fear appeals as a motivational device but these may have unwanted consequences by increasing examination-related anxiety in students. Aim To facilitate future work in this area, an instrument was developed to measure teachers' use of fear appeals in the course of normal classroom instruction. Samples Students in their final 2 years of compulsory schooling in England: 192 in Study 1 and 133 in Study 2. Method A construct validity approach was used in the development of this instrument. Study 1 reports the development and piloting of this measure. Study 2 reports refinement of this measure and relations with other constructs. Results A three-factor structure provided a reasonable model fit and all factors demonstrated acceptable reliability. Factors 1 and 2 described the perceived frequency of fear appeals made in relation to educational/occupational consequences and the third factor described the perceived threat of fear appeals. Conclusion This instrument has demonstrated sufficient convergent and discriminant validity and reliability to be used in subsequent research, although the validation process should continue and it is hoped that the instrument will be adapted for use in other contexts.